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Australia acts tough on education agents


New Delhi/Melbourne : Strengthening of student visa checks to stamp out fraud, upgrading interviews and restricting online access to Australia’s eVisa system to fewer agents are some of the measures introduced by the Australian government to reinforce the country’s standing as a high quality education destination.

“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 that genuine students receive high quality education and enjoy their experience in Australia,” said acting Australian High Commissioner Lachlan Strahan.

“It also gives a clear message that the Australian government will not tolerate fraud in the student visa program.”

The Australian government is carrying out an audit of several vocational institutes in the country, several who have hired unscrupulous agents to woo international students, mostly Indians who fall prey to obtain the Permanent Residency (PR) status.

These measures will target a number of countries where there has been rapid increase of student applications including India, Nepal and Brazil, said a statement from the Australian High Commission in New Delhi.

The Australian Minister for Immigration and Citizenship Chris Evans recently announced there were elements of concern within what was 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,” he said.

Last week the Australian government suspended almost 200 agents operating in a number of countries for 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 now need to “show cause” for their behaviour. Access arrangements are being reviewed to ensure that online agents meet high standards of performance.