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The Department of Immigration and Citizenship is strengthening checks on student visa applications to stamp out fraud and ensure students have the financial capacity to live and study in Australia.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans said today that applications for student visas grew by 20 per cent to 362 193 in 2008-09, with almost 28 000 student visas refused, an increase of 68 per cent on the number of refusals in 2007-08.

‘While overall student visa compliance rates remain high, there are elements of concern within this large caseload,’ the minister said.

The targeted measures will address the potential for document fraud and other issues around financial capacity, identification and bona fides in some parts of the student caseload. The measures implemented with immediate effect include:

  • upgrading the interview program to build a strong evidence base around fraud;
  • removing or restricting eVisa access for some agents where there is evidence of fraud or inactivity, and
  • restricting access to eVisa for some segments of the caseload if analysis demonstrates restricted access would allow for better control of fraud.

The measures will target parts of the student visa caseload in India, Mauritius, Nepal, Brazil, Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

‘These measures are consistent with those used by other countries that receive large numbers of student visa applications, such as the United States,’ Senator Evans said.

‘Australia’s student visa program supports the entry of genuine international students. For those students, the department provides a convenient, efficient service.

‘The message is clear: genuine international students remain welcome in Australia, but we will not tolerate fraud in the student visa program.’

The measures are part of the Government’s ongoing response to any changes in risk in visa programs and will build on work already conducted across the student visa program to combat fraud as it emerges. Similar arrangements are already in place for students from other countries, such as Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

‘Student visa requirements are aligned to the immigration risk presented by an applicant. The greater the risk identified, the more evidence required to be granted a student visa. Risk is determined by an objective analysis of visa compliance,’ Senator Evans said.

The next formal review of student visa risk framework is scheduled for 2010. The data obtained from the enhanced checking of student visa applications will help inform future reviews.

Source  :  http://www.minister.immi.gov.au/media/media-releases/2009/ce09075.htm

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IT has been third time lucky for Gold Coast student Michael Shelley who has won the City2Surf in a time of 41:02 minutes.  city2surf

Striding down the home stretch to the finish line, Shelley was visibly relieved knowing that after three previous attempts, he had finally won the 14km race.

“It’s very exciting, it’s my third and I suppose it’s third time lucky,” he said.

Before the race, Shelley had spoken to his coach Dick Telford whose words of encouragement helped push him over the line.

“I was talking to my coach last night and he said just be confident in what you’ve done and just have a crack at it.”

After two previous encounters with the dreaded Heartbreak Hill, this year Shelley took it on knowing how to defeat the stamina killer.

“Just be a bit conservative up the (Heartbreak) hill this year than what you had in the past,” Shelley said.

“And it paid off when I got to the top because I could still run.”

Twenty-seven-year-old health consultant Ben St Lawrence came in second followed by 26-year-old high school teacher Clint Perrett.

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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THE education export industry has to find a new way to prosper now that the government has made it harder for would-be migrants to use study as a route to permanent residency, social researcher Bob Birrell says.

In the Monash University journal People and Place, Dr Birrell said the industry, whose phenomenal growth had been helped by foreign students seeking permanent residency as skilled migrants, had reached a crossroads.

Dr Birrell is co-director of Monash’s Centre for Population and Urban Research, People and Place’s publisher.

He said a change to the skilled migration rules in December last year, coupled with other reforms, would put permanent residency beyond the reach of many former overseas students with poor English, little work experience and low-value qualifications in hospitality and cooking.

“Those providers who have built their business around marketing a credential that will lead to permanent residence must refocus their business,” he said. “They need to sell credentials that overseas students believe they can take back to their country of origin with profit.”

But Dennis Murray, executive director of the International Education Association of Australia, said the new rules would have little effect on universities although they would cut growth in hospitality courses. “We don’t see a wholesale collapse of the industry, which is what Bob would like to see,” he said.

Dr Birrell argued the appeal of permanent residency and lax rules for skilled migration delivered strong growth in business and information technology courses at universities in the early 2000s and even more dramatic growth since 2005 in hospitality, cooking and hairdressing courses at private colleges and TAFE institutes.

But the education business had come to distort the migration program, producing graduates ill-equipped or uninterested in the jobs they were supposedly trained for. Dr Birrell said the government took a stand, culminating in the tough new rules of December last year, but the surge in student numbers had carried through into the first few months of this year, for which there was official data.

“My expectation would be that the enrolments in the hospitality area will decline significantly once the message gets back via the recruitment network to the countries of origin,” he said.

Dr Birrell said higher education also would lose fee income because graduates in accounting, a field that had enjoyed strong growth, had to have better English or take on an extra year of professional training.

But he said the government needed to back its tough policy changes with a clearer message to the industry. Instead, it had allowed more than 40,000 former students to stay on temporary and bridging visas, even though most had little chance of securing permanent residency. Most had taken up temporary visas created to soften the blow of September 2007 reforms aimed at the poor English and poor employment prospects of former students.

Dr Birrell said another, sizeable group had found a loophole. In the year to May the Department of Immigration and Citizenship had allowed 15,417 former students to apply for permanent residency as skilled migrants, despite their lacking occupations on the tough new critical skills list ushered in last December. The department had put off the processing of applications by those lacking critical skills, meaning these students remained on bridging visas.

The department’s decision to accept these applications, and the $2105 fee, was “contentious and unwise” because it suggested these students eventually might win permanent residency despite not meeting the tight new rules.

“I think there’s something of a battle going on within government as to which should be given priority: the maintenance of the (overseas student) industry on the one hand and dealing with the immigration problems generated by it on the other,” Dr Birrell said.

An Immigration Department spokesman said the government was pursuing a more carefully targeted migration program, given the difficult economic times.

“Australia is giving priority to those people sponsored by employers or on the critical skills list, thus ensuring the nation gets people with the skills the economy and employers need,” he said.

Source  :  www.theaustralian.news.com.au

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One of WA’s largest educational institutions has moved its students into the digital age.

East Perth-based Central TAFE is about to roll out its first student e-mail service, after signing a deal with Microsoft.

The TAFE will offer its 15,000 students the software giant’s Live@Edu application, after trialling it with about 500 of them.

It follows a nine-month process which began when WA TAFE’s issued a tender for the supply of student e-mail services. Microsoft was awarded the tender last month.

Central TAFE managing director Neil Fernandes said Live@Edu would offer “connectivity and collaboration right across our campuses”.

Other WA TAFE’s – who have about 120,000 students between them – are watching Central’s pilot program. Live@Edu offers 10GB-capacity mailboxes and the potential to send and receive 20MB attachments.

Source  :  www.watoday.com.au

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A GIRRAHWEEN man has  won $1 million from Wednesday’s Lotto draw – after he was mistakenly sold a ticket for the midweek draw.

The man, in his 40s, actually wanted a ticket in Monday’s Lotto draw, but was instead sold a ticket in Wednesday’s draw by a teller at Summerfield News & Lotto in Girrawheen.

When the sales assistant attempted to rectify the mistake by cancelling the ticket, the man insisted that the ticket not be cancelled.

“Please don’t cancel the ticket; it might be lucky,” he told the sales assistant.

His decision ended up winning him the entire Wednesday Lotto Division One amount on offer.

The man, who has been playing Lotto for five years, said that $1 million may not be much money for some people, but for his family it is.

“For us, its big money,” he said.

Whilst he was still coming to terms with the win, the man said his first priority would be to pay off his debts, and then he may consider building another house. His plans also included an overseas family holiday later in the year.

This was the third Division One Lotto win within the past week for WA and the 33rd Division One win for the state so far this year.

Tickets on sale for $30 million OZ Lotto jackpot draw

$30 million remains as the largest Division One amount ever won by a WA Lotto player and is up for grabs in Tuesday’s OZ Lotto draw.

Two Western Australians have won a $30 million Lotto prize in the past; the first, a couple from Leeming in 2001; the second, a university student in October 2007.

And, only last week the Western Australians have won a $30 million Lotto prize in the past; the first, a couple from Leeming in 2001; the second, a university student who for 10 months hadn’t bothered to check a ticket her father had given her as a gift. When she finally decided to check it, she became more than $13 million richer.

With OZ Lotto proving to be a ‘winning’ game for WA players, anyone who hasn’t already got a ticket in Tuesday’s $30 million OZ Lotto draw could put it on their weekend shopping list, or get a friend or work colleague to prompt them to buy their ticket before 6pm on Tuesday,” says Lotterywest spokesperson Jodi Eastman.

Lotterywest is unique in Australia in its role of returning its profits directly to the community through a grants program. Last financial year alone, over $205 million was raised for WA hospitals, sports, the arts and not-for-profit organisations

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A PERTH university student is more than $13 million richer after she presented her winning ticket this week, ten months after her numbers came up.

The Perth Student received the ticket as a gift from her father, purchased  from Beechboro Newsagency in a $50 million OZ Lotto jackpot draw on July 22, 2008.

The winning ticket was a Systems 8 Slikpik costing $8.70.

At first glance, the woman thought she had won just over $13,000 but was later informed that it was actually $13,185,273.                   dollars

“I checked the commas and decimal places and then realised,” she said.

The prize remained unclaimed for 10 months.

The woman said she only decided to check a bundle of tickets because she was worried about her family’s finances.

She was unaware of the 12-month expiry on Lotto tickets in WA.

“Something made me think to check the tickets and I thought that if I win something, then I could help Mum and Dad out,” she said.

“I always remember Mum telling me that if I won Lotto, not to start jumping up and down in the shopping centre.”

She is yet to decide what to do with the unexpected windfall.

“The people close to me will be looked after and I might give some to research or a charity of some kind. It’s nice to have this much to fulfil my dreams and the dreams of the people around me,” she said.

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