ELICOS still doing it tough


Visa processing data seen by CMM shows just how bad things are in the ELICOS sector

ELICOS was one of the hardest hit sectors of education during the pandemic and it appears the woes continue.

For the 2021-22 programme year, from 1 July 1 2021 to May 31 2022 there were 314 388 student visas lodged globally. This includes 167 596 visas lodged in the Higher Education sector, 96 093 in the VET sector and 26 685 for ELICOS. Through the same period 228 150 student visas have been granted globally, with 130 171 in HE, 67 113 in VET and 13 424 to the ELICOS sector.

This equates to processing rates of around 72.6 per cent overall. 77.7 per cent in Higher Ed, 69.8 per cent for VET and only 50.3 per cent for ELICOS. Meaning 40.7 per cent of ELICOS visas applications that have been lodged haven’t completed being assessed as yet. This is driving longer than usual wait times and frustration amongst ELICOS sector members.

Brett Blacker, English Australia CEO is concerned there are further issues within the system. Saying “English Australia’s own data analysis for grant rates (those that have been assessed and granted) are also down. In Jan-March the ELICOS grant rate is down to 85 per cent from levels above 90 per cent in 20119, ‘20, and ‘21.”

English Australia has analysed country by country grant rates between Q1 19 and Q1 22. The countries most affected are: Turkey which is down 16.9 per cent; Taiwan down 16 per cent; Chile down 15.4 per cent; Peru down 13 per cent; and Italy down 10.9 per cent.

There are two possible reasons for this decrease. Firstly, an increase in integrity issues which Blacker says is “unlikely” given the countries listed have not historical integrity problems. The second is a “case load management” strategy put in place by Home Affairs which sees visa processing shifted from the country of application to a third country to balance load across the network.

While no certainty exists that this is driving these results, Home Affairs have undertaken to minimise case load transfer wherever possible. This makes sense, an understanding of the education system and the cultural attributes that are attached to each application are best achieved by those who know, locally.

Dirk Mulder advises education and business clients on trends in international education. He writes regularly for CMM


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