Australian immigration department to accept Cambridge English: Advanced( CAE )

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection in Australia (DIBP) will begin accepting Cambridge English: Advanced scores as proof of English language ability under a range of visa categories.

The test, developed by Cambridge English Language Assessment, has been accepted for student visa programmes since 2011. Under the new changes, Cambridge English: Advanced will also be recognised for Temporary Graduate, Skilled, Former Resident and Work and Holiday visa programmes.

The news follows an announcement earlier in the year from DIBP regarding their decision to accept alternative English language tests for a range of visa categories. Cambridge English: Advanced is an in-depth English language exam accepted by more than 5,000 educational institutions, businesses and government departments around the world as proof of high-level achievement.

‘Cambridge English: Advanced helps people around the world develop the language skills they need to successfully study, work and live in English speaking countries,’ commented Daniel Yuen, Regional Manager, Australia and New Zealand. ‘The exam is recognised by thousands of organisations around the world and this new acceptance by the DIBP is really good news and shows the importance they place on high-level English language skills.’

The new acceptance from DIPB will be implemented from 1 January 2015 and coincides with the launch of the Cambridge English Scale, which is a new clearer way of reporting Cambridge English test results. This single scale for reporting results across the Cambridge English exams will be launched for Cambridge English: First, First for Schools, Advanced and Proficiency in January and phased in for other Cambridge English exam during 2015.


The following visa subclasses will accept Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) test scores from January 2015:

Distinguished Talent (Australian support) (subclass 124)
Business Talent (subclass 132)
Former Resident (subclass 151)
Business Owner (provisional) (subclass 160)*
Senior Executive (provisional) (subclass 161)*
Investor (provisional) (subclass 162)*
State/Territory Sponsored Business Owner (provisional) (subclass 163)*
State/Territory Sponsored Senior Executive (provisional) (subclass 164)*
State/Territory Sponsored Investor (provisional) (subclass 165)*
Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186)
Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (subclass 187)
Business Innovation & Investment (provisional) (subclass 188)
Skilled – Independent (subclass 189)
Skilled – Nominated (subclass 190)
Work and Holiday (temporary) (subclass 462)
Skilled – Recognised Graduate (subclass 476)
Temporary Graduate (subclass 485)
Skilled – Regional (provisional) (subclass 489)
Distinguished Talent (subclass 858)
Skilled – Regional (subclass 887)
Business Innovation and Investment (permanent) (subclass 888)
Business Owner (Residence) (subclass 890)
Investor (Residence) (subclass 891)
State/Territory Sponsored Business owner (Residence) (subclass 892)
State/Territory Sponsored Investor (Residence) (subclass 893)

Community colleges lauded as USA’s secret weapon

The USA’s international education sector remains beleaguered by slowing enrolment numbers, a difficult political environment, and a dollar value making it less competitive compared with other study destinations. But better promotion of community colleges and the transfer system that offers a 2+2 access route into US higher education could be the country’s secret weapon.

This was a message that came through from various stakeholders speaking at the AIRC Conference in Florida this month.

Jing Luan, provost, international education at San Mateo County Community College District in Silicon Valley, used data to back his arguments, showing that at highly ranked UC Berkeley, for example, the number of transfer students admitted was rising year on year while freshman admissions were declining.

With many community colleges having transfer agreements enshrined in law, he argued that earning an associate degree at community college and then transferring to complete a bachelor’s degree at university was a low cost, low risk access route.

“The top 50 universities in America admitted 62,000 transfer students [in 2013],” he related, citing further data revealing only a handful of freshman (year one) students from China being admitted into many Ivy League schools in 2016.

Andrew Chen, managing director of WholeRen Education, an innovative US-based agency that services clients in China and has four offices in China too, backed the position that the transfer route into top tier universities is an effective model.

His company offers Chinese students support while in the US and undergoing the transfer process, advising on transfer from community college and from a lower-ranked to a higher-ranked university. His company helps educate parents in China about this opportunity.

“Community college, this system does not exist in China, so the transfer system doesn’t exist,” he explained to The PIE News.

He added, “I always say that President Trump did one good thing for international education, because both him and his daughter transferred into UPenn Wharton School.”

“You’ve got to understand the strength of the Indian middle class, there’s a lot of volume”

Zepur Solakian, CEO of the Centre for Global Advancement of Community Colleges, was also attending the event to advocate for wider consideration of associate degrees for international students considering the US.

She raised an observation that with tuition fees being substantially lower, not all education agencies were financially motivated to recommend such programs if their commission is a proportion of tuition fees.

Responding, Sushil Sukwhani, director of Edwise International in India, said this was not a reason for his counsellors not recommending the 2+2 route. But he noted that the families of Indian students were focused on the prestige of its well ranked institutions.

“[Parents] want to say that their children got into an institution of high recall, that people have heard of,” said Sukwhani, who said more joined-up promotion of community colleges from Education USA and other parties would be helpful.

“Commission should not be the stumbling block,” he continued. “You’ve got to understand the strength of the Indian middle class, there’s a lot of volume out there.

“There are a lot more students at a different price point and you can serve the cause of education in India and the USA [via this route] and.. get volumes to increase.”

Solakian observed that typical fees at community college range from US$6000-12,000 per year. This compares with fees of US$20,000-40,000 at university-level.

Celebrating its ninth year, the American International Recruitment Council is a membership organisation comprising education agencies that have paid to undergo an accreditation process and US education institutions.

Global politics are impacting student placements

The latestICEF i-graduate Agent Barometer has revealed a drop in attractiveness for both the UK and the US as study destinations among education agents for the third consecutive year. A survey of potential reasons for the decline included growing apprehension around visas, economic concerns and the global political landscape.

Established in 2007, the Agent Barometer monitors the opinions of education agents worldwide and provides an insight into agent’s perceptions of international education markets.

The 2017 survey featured 1,456 respondents from 107 countries, an increase of 31% on the 1,111 respondents the previous year.

Respondents were widely distributed by country with only India (16%), Nepal (7%), Brazil (7%), and Nigeria (5%) accounting for 5% or more of the total.

Agents reporting global political concerns among their clients grew from 30% of respondents in 2016 to 35% in 2017

Almost four-fifths (79%) indicated that they recruit for undergraduate programs and 76% for post-graduate courses, up slightly from 74% the previous year.

Nearly three quarters (74%) of agents said that they also recruit for language programs, and half (49%) promote secondary schools and vocational training courses (48%).

Reflecting the recent surge in international student numbers going to Canada, the county was the top destination for agents sending students of all program levels in 2017, with 52% of respondents reporting placements there, followed by Australia with 50%.

While the US was the third most favourable destination with 45%, it was down 2% on 2016 placement figures and 8% on 2015.

The UK showed an even more significant decline, with less than a third (32%) of agents placing students there in 2017 – a drop of 10% on 2016 numbers.

The number of agents reporting global political concerns among their clients grew from 30% of respondents in 2016 to 35% in 2017.

Country breakdowns, however, reveal even greater anxiety about the global political situation, particularly among students going to the US (76%) or the UK (48%).

Similarly, the global economic situation was a concern for clients going to the US (52%) and UK (51%), with Canada coming in third at 25%.

While both the US and Canada (49% respectively) topped the poll for countries where work visa concerns were encountered, student visa concerns were most prominent in Canada (61%) while financial concerns were reportedly an issue for students mainly in Australia (53%) and the UK (50%).

Despite the decline in some areas, the US topped the poll of best study destinations for MBA programs for the eighth year running with 31% of the vote, down from 41% in 2016. It was also the number one option for work and travel/study programs (27%).

For the third year in a row, the UK was the first choice for English language courses with 29% of the vote, followed by Australia and Canada with 22% respectively.

Less than a third (32%) of agents placed students in the UK in 2017

Canada was the firm choice for high school study (35%), vocational diplomas (33%), undergraduate study (25%) and postgraduate study (26%).

When it came to student and parent worries with regards studying abroad, there was a significant shift between concerns prior to departure and after student’s arrival at their study destination.

Difficulties with language were highlighted as the main concern prior to leaving according to 60% of respondents, however, it dropped by almost half to 31% upon arrival in the host country.

Financial difficulties (52%) and personal safety (445) were also high on the list of concerns prior to departure but were generally superseded by cultural difficulties (57%) upon arrival.

Difficulties with accommodation were highlighted as a major concern both before departure (46%) and upon arrival (52%), echoing recent reports around international student housing shortages.

“The Agent Barometer tracks mobility concerns reported by agents across several key categories. Whereas financial issues and concerns about the global economy predominated in the early part of this decade, we now see a greater emphasis on concerns around safety and security,” CEO of ICEF Markus Badde told The PIE News.

“This indicator encompasses both personal safety, which registers as an area of marginally greater concern this year, as well as the broader global political context, which shows a sharper increase as an area of student concern for 2017.

“We can imagine that this reflects major political currents in leading study destinations, such as the US and UK, along with regional disruptions around the world.”

Study Visa Guidance by Bhavika Soni

Three-quarters of students happy with international study experience ROI

Just under three quarters of international students from Asia were satisfied their overseas study experience was of benefit to their career, according to a recent survey. Conducted by the International Alumni Job Network and analysis group Nielsen, the survey found that 72% of international students were either satisfied or very satisfied with the return on investment from studying in Australia, the UK, the US, Canada or New Zealand.The network’s inaugural International Student and Alumni Satisfaction Survey garnered 5,200 responses from students in China, India, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam, and found there were discrepancies in levels of satisfaction depending on where the students came from.

Of the students surveyed, those from India reported the lowest levels of satisfaction with their return on investment. Forty-two per cent said they were satisfied that their UK education had a positive return, with 43% and 55% saying they were satisfied with the returns from their Australian and US education, respectively.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong students in Australia, and Singaporean and Malaysian students in the UK scored above the global average for returns on investment, with 77% and 78% satisfaction rates, respectively.

Despite the overall positivity, Shane Dillon, founder of IAJN, told The PIE Newsthat institutions and study destinations should aim to improve their levels of satisfaction, as over a quarter of respondents indicated they were not satisfied with their return on investment.

Inaccurate expectations during the recruitment process and a lack of support from providers to help students transition from study to employment were the most likely causes of dissatisfaction, according to Dillon.

“We hear on a regular basis from international students who feel abandoned by their university after graduation; who return to home countries without a professional network or any gateways or support to employment like local students receive,” he said.

Globally, the report also found high levels of satisfaction with the overall study experience, with 91% indicating they would recommend their country of study. Each country also scored at least 87% likelihood that respondents would recommend their institution.

As well as looking at student satisfaction, the surveys explored employment and salary outcomes, finding the average global monthly income for graduates to be $1,637, and an average 2.47 months wait between graduation and first job.

“An international education and the experience [of living] abroad is still a highly sought after dream for many of the world’s students and education providers need to live up to the promise that an international education is a good investment,” said Dillon.

“This will only be more important as globalisation and the fourth industrial revolution continue to rapidly change the workforce.”