Australia to allow English language competition for student visas

The Australian Government has announced it will open the market for English language testing to competition, ending the dominance of IETLS in the Australia visa application process.

The Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has announced its intention to accept results from tests other than the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) in assessing language level for an Australia visa.

From November 2011, prospective international students to Australia can be tested via the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Pearson's PTE Academic test and the Cambridge English Advanced Test during their visa application process.

Currently students from countries that have a first language other than English - particularly the key student markets of China and India - must show their IELTS test results to DIAC in order to qualify for a student visa.

Australian immigration authorities first began an review of the IELTS monopoly in 2008 and have been working with test providers to achieve a table of equivalent scores across the various testing systems.

However, IELTS will continue as the official language testing standard for skilled migration visa applications.

The news to end the dominance of IELTS comes amid reports of rising demand for student visas to Australia. ABC Radio reported that 'the number of applications for visas to study in Australia has begun to rebound', indicating a stabilisation of the international student market following a period of noted decline.

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