Recent Changes Positively Affect Australian Student Visas

Passport pages 145853332Internationals students interested in studying in Australia received a bit of good news last month as a string of reports from the Australian Department for Immigration and Border Protection made a string of announcements that could make it easier for some students to study in the island nation.

Get In The Fast Lane

The first announcement regards an extension of the Australian government’s streamlined visa processing (SVP) program. Although only those students seeking advanced diplomas – less than one percent of Australia’s higher education market – will be eligible, those that will can look forward to a simpler and faster visa process. This change also opens the SVP process to Vocational Education and Training schools, a move that legislators within the country see as a much-needed boost to student recruitment efforts.

Second Chances

At the same time, regular student visa holders who inadvertently breached immigration regulations will be able to take advantage of legislative conditions which take “exceptional circumstances” into account. That means, for example, international students who lose their student visas due to extenuating circumstances – e.g., a hospitalization – can remain in Australia while reapplying. At the same time, students whose student visas were revoked under such circumstances – and were heretofore barred from studying in Australia -will now be eligible to reapply. Of course, such students will need to provide proof of the extenuating circumstances in question and, likewise, must satisfy all the criteria necessary to receive a student visa.

New English Proficiency Tests Accepted

Finally, in news that stands to affect still more students, the Department for Immigration and Border Protection announced that, beginning November 2014, it will accept both the TOEFL iBT and PTE Academic proof of English proficiency for many visa programs. That means that Temporary Graduate, Skilled and Work and Holiday visa applicants will be able to join the ranks of Student Visa applicants (who have been able to use both exams since 2011) as they work toward to dream of higher education in Australia.

Changes in Australia Student Visa Options

Small person running through opened door for carrer opportunity479566953The Australian the Department for Immigration and Border Protection recently announced that, starting later this year, it will accept results from both the TOEFL iBT and PTE Academic as proof of English proficiency for a number of its post-graduate visa options. This decision, which goes into effect in November 2014, mirrors a 2011 change to accept these two exams for academic admissions purposes and means that these same exams will be accepted as proof of proficiency for all graduate, skilled, and business visa applicants.

Popularity Has Its Benefits

Not only does the addition of two more test systems give visa applicants a wider choice of English proficiency exams (and with it the opportunity to take the exam best-suited to their needs) it also gives their would-be hosts –that is to say, Australian universities and businesses– access to a larger pool of recruits. After all, the TOEFL iBT alone has been taken by more than more than 27 million people around the world and this ruling means that every one of them could potentially use their TOEFL results for undergraduate admissions and a host of post-graduate options. Continue reading “Changes in Australia Student Visa Options”

TOEFL and TOEIC No Longer Accepted in the UK Student Visa Process


The Story

As many aspiring international students already know, the UK Border Agency (UKBA) – the organization in charge of regulating student visas in the United Kingdom – requires that applicants demonstrate their proficiency in the English language before granting students permission to live and study in that country. To do this, the UKBA has traditionally turned to a number of English language tests to provide applicants with what it calls “Secure English Language Testing.”  Unfortunately, as we first reported in March, two of the biggest players in English language testing, the TOEFL and the TOEIC, were not as “secure” as many had believed. As an undercover investigation conducted by the BBC news program Panorama revealed that month, systemic problems affected the administration of exams offered at certified Educational Testing Service (ETS) exam locations called the validity of results from both exams into questions. These problems, which included (but were not limited to)  substitute test takers and corrupt proctors, led the UKBA to review its regulations and, in the meantime, suspend all pending Tier 4 student visa applicants that used an UK-based, ETS-delivered exam to demonstrate their English proficiency.

New Developments

Now, two months later, the UKBA has announced that, effective April 5th, it will not be extending its license agreement with ETS. Though ETS exams – including the TOEFL and the TOEIC – can still be used in order to prove English proficiency to UK universities, neither exam will satisfy the UKBA’s language proficiency requirement. As the ETS itself said in a statement released on its website, “TOEIC and TOEFL testing will no longer be offered for U.K. visa-granting purposes.” As these exams are two of the most popular in use around the world, such a change has major implications for the English language testing industry far beyond the United Kingdom. Students interested in applying to schools in both the US and UK with one set of test results, for example, will have to turn to exams – such as the IELTS – which are accepted by both countries. Though the story is still developing, this news is bound to affect the testing decisions of thousands of would-be international students.

Ireland Student Visa

IRELAND160498144Why study English in Ireland?
Though small in size, Ireland enjoys a world-renowned reputation. With it storied past, vibrant culture, and dynamic future, it truly has something to offer everyone. Such allure makes the fact that relatively few international students – a mere 32,000 in 2010 – study in Ireland all that more surprising. Their loss, however, can be your gain. Indeed, Ireland may be the best-kept secret in international higher education. After all, not only was Dublin was listed by Quacquarelli Symonds as one of the top ten cities in the world to be a student but also the International Student Barometer Survey  – another important metric of student satisfaction – ranked Ireland ahead of all other English-speaking countries as well as Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Where can I study?
Ireland may be small but its bustling, modern cities are home to some of the most famous universities in the world. Not only are three – Trinity College, University College (Dublin), and University College (Cork) – among the world’s 200 best but these flagship colleges also serve as an inspiration model for the country’s many other centers of higher education. Moreover, the country’s reputation for hospitality extends well beyond the walls of higher education – the country boasts a number of public and private English language schools to choose from.

What are the Ireland student visa regulations like?
Best of all, recent changes to the Irish student visa policy make studying English in Ireland easier than ever. Not only are students from the European Union, European Economic Area, and Switzerland except from student visa requirements (as Ireland is itself a member of the EU/EEA), but students from many other countries are able to study in Ireland on a standard tourist visa.* For those interested in a longer course of study, obtaining an Ireland student visa means obtaining a “D” visa. For more information on this process, see our information page on Ireland Student Visas.

* For more information on this policy change please see the INIS briefing here.

English Immersion Destinations: Study English in Australia

australia164473953Why study English in Australia?
Given the fact that Australia is the world’s third most popular destination for international students – trailing on the United States and United Kingdom – it is safe to say that the secret is out about studying in Australia. Still, what makes a country of only 23 million so attractive to so many? Well, first there is the outback itself. From the Great Barrier Reef to the Great Sandy Desert – and a whole host of climates in between – Australia offers something for everyone. Not that pristine beaches and scenic National Parks are its only draw. Though cities like Sydney and Melbourne are compelling, world-class destinations in their own right, their relatively small sizes make them easy places to feel comfortable. As a result they make ideal places to explore both Australian culture and the English language.

Where can I study?
Plus, its colleges and universities are as attractive as the cities that house them, In fact, according to the The World University Rankings, Australia is home to five of the 100 best universities in the world. Not that these five are outliers: strong government support has provided Australia with the eighth best system of higher education in the world. Moreover, unlike some of the other big names – such as Germany and Japan – that it beat out, a wide variety of scholarship opportunities makes it more affordable than ever to study in Australia. Continue reading “English Immersion Destinations: Study English in Australia”

Types of US Student Visas

With entrance applications, essays, and exams to contend with, applying for college in the US presents a daunting variety of unique challenges. Unfortunately for many aspiring international students that challenge is further compounded by the confusion that often arises from the student visa application process. Part of these confusion stems from the fact that there is not just one catch-all US student visa but rather three distinct types, each with its own slightly different set of requirements. Thus the first thing students need to know is which of these types of US student visas do they in particular need?

F-1 Visa

Of the three types of US student visas, the US F-1 Visa is the most well-known for a good reason. Indeed, the F-1 is for all intents and purposes synonymous with the US student visa because it is the visa category for students attending the vast majority of educational programs in the US. Students interested in educational institutions as diverse as accredited colleges and universities, high schools, private elementary schools, seminaries, conservatories, and language training programs such as an ELP will all need to pursue the F-1.

J-1 Visa

Also known as the exchange visitor option, the J-1 visa is open to students who receive a significant portion of their financial support from an external source. Thus students who are funding their education with personal or family funds are not qualified to seek J-1 status but students receiving help from their sponsoring university, Rotary International, or the US government are eligible.

M-1 Visa

Finally, students pursuing a vocational, technical, or other nonacademic program are eligible for an M-1 student visa. Despite this distinction, M-1 students must meet the same language proficiency and financial solvency requirements expected of all types of US student visas and, of course, must be enrolled in a full course load to maintain their status.

Progress Spells Growth for South Africa – and its Universities

More than a decade after the end of apartheid and the country’s first open elections, South Africa is reaping the rewards. Today it is home to the largest economy in Africa and enjoy the status of political heavyweight in the region. This growth has paid wide dividends, however, as its colleges and universities have recently begun to hit their stride. Between 1994 and 2007 – the most recent year that such statistics are currently available – the number of international students enrolled in South Africa’s universities has quadrupled. Nor does this growth (from some 12,557 students in 1994 to fully 53,733 in 2007) show any signs of slowing down.

This represents a boon for South Africa’s pride and signals a unique achievement. International students, who clearly see the country as an emerging study abroad destination, now make up 7% of the country’s student body. South Africa now ranks, for example, among US students’ top 20 most popular study-abroad countries. These finding, corroborated by the Institute of International Education’s Open Doors report, South Africa is now America’s 18th most popular study abroad destination, putting it just ahead of the South American heavyweight, Brazil.

The South Africa Student Visa has also become a hot commodity among the country’s neighbors. Fully two-thirds of the country’s international students – more than 35,000 in all – are from Southern African Development Community member states. The involvement of students from this 15-country block, which counts among its members neighboring Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Botswana, represents a huge show of support for South African higher education. Zimbabwe alone sent more than 18% of the country’s international students in 2006.

South Africa’s universities are recruiting from well beyond Africa’s southern tip, however: 16% of all international students came from elsewhere in Africa and 14% from the rest of the world. With that 14% – comprising students from Europe, Asia, North America – growing faster than any other, the future looks bright for South African study abroad.

Why Study in South Africa

South Africa is a country on the move. The developing nation, whose geography is the same as its name, has taken on an increasingly important role on the continent itself and is rising power on the world stage at large. A mining giant that is well known for its natural beauty, the country is also quickly emerging as Africa’s international education powerhouse. South Africa’s popularity has risen quickly: while it was US students 18th most popular destination in 2006, it rose fully five place – to 13th – in as many years. It’s little wonder why: South Africa’s attractions are as varied as its people and has much to offer would-be internationals students:

The Landscape – South Africa is a land of geographic extremes. A famously remote land that offers diverse riches, its territory encompasses a variety of compelling landscapes that includes scenic river valleys, lofty mountain tops, beautiful beaches, and even the stunning Karoo Desert.

The Cities – Urban life in South Africa has a lot to offer as well. On a continent renowned for conflict, its infrastructure well-developed, its citizens well-educated, and – if you get lost along the way – ordinary people in the street speak English.

The People – Indeed, it is those very people that are the stars of South Africa. It population is chiefly comprised of a diverse array of native peoples as well as European, Indian, and Asian immigrants and, in this post-apartheid era, the county’s constitution simultaneously recognizes 11 official languages and the value of multiculturalism. Don’t worry, though – South Africa may be a nation of about 50 million people (whose cultures are almost as varied as they are) but their friendliness is world famous.

The Schools – The country’s academic reputation is also world famous. Several of its 23 major universities rank among the world’s top 500 universities and applying for a student visa in South Africa is now easier than ever. Better yet, South Africa student visas are available for both study abroad and degree-seeking students.

In the end, then, South Africa’s reputation as a world class study abroad destination is well-deserved. But don’t take my word for it – now is the perfect time find out for yourself if learning English in South Africa is the place for you!

Ireland Has Highest Quality of Life

Ireland, that Shamrock Isle, well-known for its natural beauty and storied history, has received a new distinction: the world’s highest quality of life. The honor, bestowed by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2005 Quality-of-Life index, is part of the paper’s ongoing effort to measure happiness around the world. While other organizations have released similar surveys in the past (and this is weekly’s 17th iteration) their measurements are based on more subjective surveys about happiness rather. Likewise conceding that wealth – the standard measurement used to compare nations – is not the best indicator of a nation’s overall satisfaction, however, The Economist’s survey compares 111 countries by aggregating nine factors that range from traditional metrics like wealth and political freedom to relative intangibles like gender equality and community life.

Taken together, then, Ireland leads the pack with the survey’s highest score – 8.33 out of 10 – and strongly outperforms Switzerland (8.07) and Norway (8.05),the second and third place finishers. Perhaps more surprising still, Ireland’s neighbor and longtime rival, the United Kingdom, ranked 29th – solidly in the second tier of surveyed nations.
This result is clear indicator of Ireland’s rising position in the world. Long considered a European backwater, as recently as the 1990s the country was better known for its mass emigrations than its quality of life. Of late, however, membership in the European Union and the resulting loosening of trade restrictions has transformed the island nation. Where once thousands of its citizens left every year in search abroad, favorable exchange programs with other EU member state has seen a significant uptick in Ireland student visa applicants.

In fact, the survey reveals what many international students in Ireland already known. Attracted by its favorable climate, low cost of living, and friendly people, it has established itself as a major player in both English language and higher education.

Why Study in New Zealand

With its world-famous natural beauty routinely on display in movie theaters around the world, New Zealand is, quite literally, the stuff of legends. More to the point, its renown for being for amazing is every bit as justified as its reputation for remoteness.

Recent changes to its immigration policy, however, mean that New Zealand is more accessible than ever. Indeed, a series of flexible visa arrangements mean that, in New Zealand, you have the best of both worlds. Citizens from many countries – namely Canada, Germany, Japan, Taiwan and the United Kingdom – are eligible for New Zealand’s Working Holiday program and entitled to study without a formal student visa for up to six months out of twelve. Similarly, students from most other countries are free to enroll in short-term English language program (three months in length or less) on a visitor visa. Student who are seeking a degree (or have otherwise longer term plans) can take advantage of the New Zealand student visa and even work part-time during the academic year.

Between work and school, however, be sure to leave plenty of time to enjoy the best of what New Zealand has to offer. It truly is one of the greatest travel destinations in the world. From the North Island’s volcanoes to the South Island’s fjords – and with world-class cities and beaches in between – it has something to offer visitors of all stripes.

This varied landscape, along with its four distinct seasons, means that there are incredible sports and adventure activities to engage in no matter the season. The country is overflowing with recreation activities that range from the sedate (like gold and horseback riding) to the extreme (like rock climbing and hang gliding).

Finally, its people are world-renowned in their own right for their warm spirits and friendly dispositions. They, truly, are the stars of the show and will doubtless make your visit a memorable one!

If you are looking to study English in New Zealand, check out the ESL Directory to find the program that’s right for you.