The international students can expect Australian student visa reforms to play a bigger role in Australia’s skilled migration because a policy paper has been submitted to the government by the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) that proposes that any international student who will undertake an additional professional year in skills shortage areas should be given double migration points to permanent residency.
Australia is considering doubling the migration points for professional year programs and extending post-study work rights for offshore studies in flexible new study visa options. Government ministers are reported “genuinely open” to visa reforms and it is expected, changes will be put in place before the start of the new year.
Speaking at The PIE Live, International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) CEO Phil Honeywood said the proposals would entitle offshore students to post-study work rights. This will enable them to come to Australia and get their post-study work right based on their entire study abroad without any face-to-face learning.
Other proposals include doubling the migration points for the completion of a professional year program in Australia from five to 10. Studies in Australia note that professional year programs are structured professional development programs combining formal learning and workplace experience for international students who have graduated from a university in Australia. They last 12 months and they are currently available in the fields of accounting, computer science, and engineering — Australian industries where the demand for skilled graduates is high.
Honeywood was quoted saying that these programs are “very popular” among international graduates. “All of this plays into a skilled migration push, which is now happening in Australia as we’re waking up to the fact that we desperately need vibrant, resilient young people with skills that many Australian domestic students don’t have,” he said.
The proposed policy reforms aim to incentivize students to come to Australia. However, some argue that international students should be given a clearer pathway to Australia’s skilled migration, and reforms to the Australian student visa could achieve that.
Speaking at AVETRA’s webinar, Dr. Abul Rizvi, an immigration expert, said “the relationship between migration to Australia and international education – history and future directions”. It is unlikely for the government to deliver its target of 2,35,000 net migration without a significant increase in student visas.
He said student visa policy settings post-September 2019 saw “significantly” reduced offshore student visas from countries such as India, China, and Nepal. Dr. Rizvi — a former deputy secretary of the Commonwealth Immigration Department — added that Australian Education Minister Alan Tudge wants more students to study offshore and or online. “If that’s the case, then the student contribution to the net overseas migration forecast will be difficult to deliver,” said Dr. Rizvi.
“The Joint Standing Committee on Migration also wants a greater focus on high performing students to feed into skilled migration,” he said. The changes the government is making, however, is making the Australian student visa and its characteristics “much more akin to a low skill work visa compared to our competitors”, adding that that has long-term implications for the student contribution to migration in Australia.