International student enrolments in film, TV and digital media are set to increase after the Australian government agreed to change tight student visa requirements.

It’s a much-needed boost for the education sector, which has experienced a downfall in international student numbers over the past two years. Global competitiveness and the high Australian dollar have also been factors.

Removing tough financial requirements, speeding up visa processing times and introducing a 2-4 year post-study work visa for foreign uni graduates are considered to be the most important changes and have been warmly welcomed by the sector, including education provider Navitas. The WA-based company, which purchased media training company SAE earlier this year, will be looking at increasing numbers after suffering a 7 per cent decline in this year’s second semester.

The government has agreed to implement the changes after a review was commissioned by Senator Chris Evans and Chris Bowen MP in December last year. The review was undertaken by former Sydney Olympics Minister Michael Knight.

“The government has consulted with the industry and now presents a series of measures which will signal to the world that Australia values international students and wants to welcome them back,” Navitas chief executive, Rod Jones, said in a statement.

Senator Evans said the reforms would ensure Australia remained an attractive study option.

The government says the majority of the recommendations are expected to be implemented between October, 2011 and mid-2012, while other changes were expected to commence in early-2013. The key recommendations should come into effect before next year's second semester.

Click here for the Michael Knight review and here for the Government response.

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