HE News Brief 1.6.10

by Abby Chau


From the Iraq higher education system to a boost in the kiwi economy, here are this week’s news stories:

  • During the India-UAE: Leveraging the Knowledge Economy Paradigm forum in Abu Dhabi, both countries pledged more robust cooperation in education. Citing the economic climate and the possibility of a human resource crisis, both India and the UAE said distance learning programmes may be a good way forward.
    Full Story: Gulf News   
  • One of the many legacies the U.S will leave behind in Iraq appears to take the form of an uber expensive liberal arts university. The American University of Iraq, according to this article, has only attracted 375 students as high tuition costs and the impracticality of a liberal arts education are cited as barriers to attract enrolment.(See our 16.3.2010 post for more information regarding the Iraq Higher Education System)
    Full Story: Guardian
    More: Asharq Alawsat
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Visas, another homework for governments towards international education and Latin America students. Part III.

by Liliana Casallas

Part III. UK System & Fact table

In the UK, the process has also been changing. Students from Latin America are able to apply online for the visa.  Students who wish to pursue their studies in the UK can use the Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies (CAS), which is an electronic reference number that is given to applicants as proof that they have been offered a place at an UK institute. According to the British High Commissioner, Rob Fenn, it is one of the changes in order to move toward a consolidation of one system, which integrates an online application, appointment, biometrics within the ‘point based system’ in order  to support the strategy of a centralized decision-making process for each region.

In the case of Latin America, the visa application process has been centralised in New York, where they receive and review applications.

The official time for responses takes between a minimum of 5 to 120 working days but response time depend on the country. Nevertheless, there are records of 90% applications processed in 3 days for Brazil, 5 days for Colombia, 10 days for Mexico and 30 days for Venezuela.

It is too early to state if a offshore centralized decision-making process is favourable for expediting student visas but new tools such as CAS will help with the delays caused by acceptance letters.

Certainly, some countries have an open policy to attract international students and promote higher education, others, are also interested to keep the best fresh minds as part of a strategy to invest in the country.  As seen in table IV, countries such as the US and UK run a policy to allow students to work in a particular sector after studying in the country. Contrary, Spain has a strongly restrictive visa application system and processing for applicants whatever they are a student or not. Additionally, as one can see below, there are no clear standards in terms of requirements, time, policy and approval rates.

  Australia USA Spain UK
Visa process

A1= 14 days

A2 = 21 days

A3= 90 days

Up to 60 days  (excluding visa interview, delivery)

No information

 Up to 120 days


 Visa Fee (1)


$200 (Plus booking appointment cost and $131 application process fee)



Part Time Work

Up to 20 hours per week while your course is in session and unlimited hours during scheduled course breaks.

On-campus employment of 20 hours a week or less.

40 hours for internships upon approval.


Allowed but number of hours not defined.

Up to 20 hours per week while your course is in session and unlimited hours during scheduled course breaks.


Staying beyond the authorized stay


F-1 student – An additional 60 days, to prepare for departure from the U.S. or to transfer to another school.

Students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are entitled to legally work under Optional Practical Training for 29 months


Students are allowed to apply for Tier 1 visa, which allows students who have successfully obtained a degree or postgraduate certificate/diploma in the UK to remain and work for up to 2 years.

Approval rate

2006-07 (93.89%)


           Average 69% Not published

Not published


Table.IV. Visa facts per country

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Visas, another homework for governments towards international education and Latin America students. Part I. Australia

by Liliana Casallas

The United States, Cuba, France, Spain and the UK are the main host countries for Latin American students who choose to pursue higher education overseas. Each country has their own policy for student visas. Some of these countries have been working for years to establish a transparent and fair system for international students.

Meanwhile, students take into account eligibility, requirements, timings and the paper work process, additionally to other factors such obtaining a permit to work, visa extensions and the migration programme of the host country.

 Australia only hosts 1% of mobile students from Latin America. However, it is worth to review Australia’s immigration policy as it is one of the most recognized immigration systems and is a point of reference for other governments who intend to improve their systems such as the UK.

In 2008-2009, Australia processed 227,924 off-shore applications, 52% of those were online. The process to apply for student visas take up to 90 days depending on  the assessment level of the participant’s country of origin, which is a key element of the application process.

 Australia recognises the importance of being an attractive country for international students and is working on continuous changes to improve the integrity of the student visa program as well as to help streamline the visa application process.

 The US tags its immigration policy as “Secure borders, open doors”, which pursues the dual goals of keeping the US safe and of welcoming qualified students. The US government perceives international educational exchange as a good path to create interpersonal exchanges and cross cultural understanding that helps to create a more stable world.

 The governments are looking to strike the right balance between making the visa application process easier to genuine students while setting additional controls to avoid people who may abuse the system.

 Australia now seeks to assess students enrolling in more than one course, enabling the government to cancel visas that do not comply with the policy during their stay in the country. The Australian government increased the basic rate of living cost for international student from $12,000 to $18,000 a year, elevating the visa requirement for students to prove they have sufficient funds for living in Australia.

 Australia also established five assessment levels in the student visa program, which are related to the immigration risk level.  Assessment level 5 is the highest based on the calculated immigration risk posed by students from that country studying in any educational sector (Higher Education and Postgraduate Research). The level of assessment define the time and process of evaluation of the visa application.  See table 1, to review process time vs. current performance.

Students Assessment Level 1 Level 2 Level 3/4
75% processing time 14 days 21 days 90 days
Actual 75 percentile 15 days 21 days 71 days

Table 1: Students – performance against service standards

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