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Both students and private colleges are expected to benefit from Australia’s booming international student business, following changes to the student visa system announced by the federal government.

The federal government is expected to slash the number of student visa categories and introduce a simplified single immigration risk framework for international students as part of a long-flagged shake-up of student visas, according to a report in The Australian Financial Review.

Announcing the changes, Education Minister Christopher Pyne and Assistant Immigration Minister Michaelia Cash said that the number of types of student visa would be reduced from eight to two and that the current visa risk assessment system, which favours universities and a limited number of other education providers, would be replaced with a system that would make it easier for private colleges to enrol foreign students.

“Australia is open for business and welcomes genuine and high quality international students who provide a much-needed boost to our economy, our local communities and jobs, and who boost our country-to-country relationships,” Mr Pyne said in a statement.

“We warmly welcome genuine international students and we are committed to improving and protecting the integrity of our immigration system” the Minister stated.

International students con­trib­uted a record $17.5 billion to the Australian economy for the 12 months to the end of March, the highest figure since 2009. The changes come as the number of international students is growing strongly, providing an export boost to offset the slump in the resources industry. This year the intake of new students is at its highest level ever in the March quarter, 11.5 per cent above 2014.

Rod Camm, CEO of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training, which represents private colleges, welcomed the latest changes told the AFR that Australia’s student visa system is currently so complex that colleges attending education fairs would spend half their time explaining the visa system instead of talking about quality of education.

Under the new system, to be known as the simplified student visa framework (SSVF), students applying to all education providers will be assessed for visa risk under a single framework. It will be based on the country they come from and the immigration compliance record of other students who have studied at that particular education provider. The new scheme will mean fewer students requiring to provide evidence for admission, although individual risk ratings for students and countries will be kept confidential.

The government is expected to begin detailed work on the implementation of the new simplified international student visa framework at the end of the month, with the new scheme to be implemented by the middle of the next year.