The former Assessment Level 4 (AL4) countries have been downgraded to AL3, as the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) scraps the strict AL4 and AL5 categories.
The higher a country’s AL classification – based on risk factors including rates of fraudulent documentation and visa cancellation – the more supporting evidence candidates are required to submit.
Sue Blundell, Executive Director of English Australia and part of the External Working Group for the DIBP review, welcomed the changes, which she said acknowledge that there was “really very little difference” between AL3 and AL4.
She told The PIE News that pathway providers are most likely to benefit from the new regulations, as students from countries like China, India and Pakistan favour courses that package English language programmes with higher education study.
Under the new regulations, students from former AL4 markets need a lower level of English to enrol on these courses, and children can now enrol in Australian schools from Year 7 rather than Year 10, which the Department says “provides a substantial benefit for both students and schools”.
This will enable students to apply “with up to AUS$40,000 (US$37,000) less in the bank”
Students from low-risk AL1 and AL2 countries will be unaffected, while AL3 students will only have to demonstrate that they have sufficient funds for 12 months’ study rather than 18 months.
This will enable students to apply “with up to AUS$40,000 (US$37,000) less in the bank”, according to DIBP Minister Scott Morrison, provided the funds come from the student or a close relative.
The changes, which came into effect on March 22, are based on the recommendations of a 2013 DIBP review into the assessment framework. When the review was published, there were no AL5 countries and only 6% fell under the AL4 category.
The move was welcomed by many of the same international education associations who voiced their concern after the DIBP announced that it had signed off on a review into the effectiveness of the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) criteria without any industry consultation.
Blundell explained that English Australia, which represents over 100 colleges, “actively contributed” to the review process.
“The reduction in the financial requirements is an approach we have argued would bring Australia closer in alignment to other countries,” she explained.
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