Australia to end IELTS monopoly for student visas

October 17th, 2011 - 5:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Melbourne, Oct 17 (IANS) Australia will end the monopoly enjoyed by International English Language Testing System (IELTS) from Nov 5.

Other English language test providers have now been allowed to gain entry to the Australian international education market.

“It’s a positive step in the right direction,” says Jag Khairra, a Melbourne-based education and immigration consultant.

Once the IELTS monopoly ceases, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) case officers would start accepting results from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Pearson’s PTE Academic test and the Cambridge English Advanced test.

Currently, the student visa applicants from the “high-risk” countries such as India and China are required to provide IELTS test score as evidence of English proficiency. IELTS, which is jointly owned by Australia’s IDP and British Council, is also used as a standard for all the work and skilled migration related visas.

Australia’s Minister for Immigration Chris Evans had announced the drastic changes to the English language test system in May.

DIAC has been, according The Australian newspaper, working with other test providers to determine various standards of English proficiency.

The changes are likely to impact the two largest international student source countries - China and India.

The review of the English testing system was initiated by the immigration department in 2008.

Alan Olsen, a researcher, commented in his study of overseas students who did not take up an offer: “Australia might need to look at why it does not accept TOEFL results for higher degrees by research students from countries such as China, India and Iran.”

The international education industry in Australia has for long been asking for opening up of English language testing system.

“Students will now be able to sit for popular English language tests like TOEFL and PTE. These tests have worldwide acceptance and students will benefit from sitting for a test which is accepted in many countries, not just Australia,” says Khairra.

As the Nov 5 changes would apply to student visas only, there is a demand to extend the changes to other visa sub-classes too.

“These tests should be allowed for other visa streams like General Skilled Migration and accepted by various skills assessment authorities,” adds Khairra.

(Paritosh Parasher can be contacted at paritoshparasher@yahoo.com)

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