Keeping an eye on Communist, Totalitarian China, and its influence both globally, and we as Canadians. I have come to the opinion that we are rarely privy to truth regarding the real goal, the agenda of Red China, and it's implications for Canada [and North America as a whole]. No more can we rely on our media as more and more information on China is actively being swept under the carpet - not for consumption.
Monday, April 16, 2018
China raises concerns about student visa delays, too bad
China has raised concerns about the long visa approval process for government-funded postgraduate students seeking to study at Australian universities amid suggestions the delays are politically motivated following fears about Beijing's alleged influence on university campuses.
The China Scholarship Council, which is overseen by the Chinese Ministry of Education, has raised concerns with the Chinese embassy in Canberra and universities about the long approval process for PhD students and scholars applying to work in Australia under the program.
Australian universities have also raised concerns with the Department of Home Affairs about visa approvals they say are taking up to 12 months to process. It is believed applicants are being vetted by intelligence agencies, which are becoming increasingly concerned about Chinese espionage activities in Australia.
The China Scholarship Council (CSC), which funds students seeking placements in Australia and other countries, last week advised applicants to consider looking at other countries besides Australia because of the delays. While applicants seeking to come to Australia under the scholarship program make up a fraction of the thousands of self-funded Chinese students in the country, the council's warning will increase fears about a backlash from Beijing against Australia's foreign interference laws.
The Department of Home Affairs said late Thursday it and the Australian Embassy in Beijing had been liasing with the CSC on just under 40 scholars who were experiencing a delay as they went through national security and other checks. A spokeswoman for the department sid it was incorrect to suggest the issue was targeting Chinese applicants.
The International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) said the delays were an unfortunate irony given Australia was increasingly a hub nation for postgraduate education. The association's chief executive, Phil Honeywood, said visa approvals were taking up to 12 months, although the department's website said 90 per cent of postgraduate visa applications were processed in 74 days.
It is understood there also have been delays for PhD visa applications from India, Malaysia, Iran and Vietnam. In most cases the issue relates to potential compromises to intellectual property.
"The IEAA realises that postgrad visas are not simply a case of ticking a box. A whole range of national priority issues need to be taken into account," Mr Honeywood said.
"We're getting a lot more enrolments in postgrad study. There's a massive trend in Asia for students to do their undergrad degree in Asia and then come to Australia for postgrad. In 2016 the four biggest unis had an 11 per cent growth rate in postgrad applications."
China's Global Times newspaper published an article this week saying Chinese postgraduates had been waiting for their visas to be approved for more than six months. The newspaper said the visa delays were linked to political tension tension between Beijing and Canberra amid claims that Chinese "spies" have penetrated Australian universities.
"To avoid unnecessary losses brought by the visa problem we would like to warn the people who are planning to apply for the study program in Australia to understand the visa policy and to be cautious when choosing which country to go to," the council said in a statement. The council said it had been raising concerns about the visa delays since 2016.
"The Australian side cannot give a proper explanation on the visa process."
The Global Times said about 100 Chinese PhD and other postgraduate students were waiting for their visas to be approved and quoted one student accepted by the University of New South Wales to study mechanical engineering who was moving to Britain instead after waiting more than eight months for permission to study in Australia.
Beijing last month issued a warning, published on the Chinese Ministry of Education's website, to current and potential students that Australia was unsafe. Universities raised fears they were being caught in the crossfire of a war of rhetoric between Beijing and Canberra over Malcolm Turnbull's foreign interference laws.
There are just under 134,000 Chinese students enrolled in Australia's top universities, which are heavily dependent on the hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue they bring in each year.
The Home Affairs website said in 2016-17 that 10,826 applications were lodged for postgraduate research from all nationalities, of which 98.2 per cent were granted. That means 319 were turned down, although no reasons were given.
The Home Affairs spokeswoman said the Australian government placed a high priority on its research and scientific relationship with China. Australia is ranked third in terms of scientific publications jointly authored with China.
She said the scholars must go through legislated health, character and national security checks required for the temporary 408-class visas. "The timing for the completion of these checks varies from one case to another, depending on individual circumstances," the spokeswoman said. "These legislated requirements are not new and they not specific to Chinese nationals; they apply to all applicants for the 408 visa irrespective of their country of origin."
A spokeswoman for the University of New South Wales said it was working with Home Affairs on the issue and encouraged overseas students to make their applications early.
The chief executive of the Group of Eight major universities, Vicki Thomson, said they had seen no increase in visa delays from major markets and certainly no evidence of any political interference.
"We have worked very closely with the Australian government over the last two years to ensure any processing delays were resolved, and they were," she said.