Australian Government takes action on agents

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New Delhi/Canberra, Sep.17 (ANI): The Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, recently announced that Australia would strengthen student visa checks to stamp out fraud and ensure students have the financial capacity to live and study in Australia. These measures will reinforce Australia's standing as a high quality education destination for all genuine students.

These measures, which include upgraded interviews and reviewing or restricting online access to Australia's eVisa system for some agents, will target parts of the student caseload in a number of countries where there has been rapid growth, including India, Nepal and Brazil.

Senator Evans said overall student compliance rates remain high. But he noted there are elements of concern within what is a very large caseload requiring targeted measures such as terminating or suspending agents because of evidence of fraud or poor approval rates to protect the interests of all genuine students. The Australian Government takes allegations of fraud in the student visa program very seriously.

Last week the Australian Government suspended almost 200 agents operating in a number of countries from lodging online student visa applications because of evidence of fraud or poor approval rates. While most of these agents were operating in Australia, a small number of agents were from India. To regain their access to the online system, agents will need to 'show cause' for their behaviour. Access arrangements are being reviewed to ensure that online agents meet high standards of performance.

Acting High Commissioner, Dr. Lachlan Strahan said: "submitting fraudulent documents or making fraudulent claims in applications by agents on behalf of their student clients is simply unacceptable. These measures are to ensure genuine students receive high quality education and enjoy their experience in Australia. It also gives a clear message that the Australian Government will not tolerate fraud in the student visa program".

At the same time, the Australian government is continuing to work with its state counterparts to audit education providers to ensure that Australia remains a high quality education destination.

Students are encouraged to research courses or programs they are interested in studying in Australia. Information on studies, institutions and living costs in Australia is available at www.studyinaustralia.gov.au. (ANI)

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