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Reprieve for international students

International nursing students who feared they would be deported at the end of the month because of changes to nursing registration rules have won a reprieve.

Hundreds of international nursing students caught up in the transition to the new national scheme have been saved from deportation, following a review of their situation by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia.

About 400 international nursing students who recently completed their TAFE and university nursing courses had been refused registration because they did not meet the new English standard introduced on 1 July 2010.

Overseas qualified registered nurses, undertaking a short course to have their qualifications recognised in Australia, were also affected.

Many of the students, from China, India and the Philippines, were facing deportation when their student visas ran out on 30 August, there only option to apply for a tourist visa, which would have prevented them from working.

The NMBA will accelerate the registration process of affected students, who, until now had been refused registration because while they met the former Nurses Board of Victoria's English standard, they did not meet the new standard. They will have to meet this standard by 31 May, 2011 or otherwise they will not be registered again.

The former Victorian board’s written advice to overseas qualified nurses, undertaking
short registration courses in Australia, that they will be registered on successful
completion of these courses without further English language testing will also be honoured.

The NMBA will also review its English language standard.

ANF (Vic branch) secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said the problem became evident in Victoria first because of this state's large mid-year graduation of nursing courses. It will affect hundreds more international nursing students in Victoria and across the country when they graduate at the end of the year, she said.

“This was not an issue about English standard, this was about a fair process for international nursing students who met the standards when they started their courses but not on 1 July,” Fitzpatrick said

"The registration issue remains for students now in the critical final six months of their nursing courses and, given the exorbitant fees these students are charged, ANF will be pursuing the universities and other education providers to fund the additional English language tutoring and testing required,"

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