Visa Crunch

Non-Travel-Based Youth Engagement Is The Need Of The Hour Between Australia And Asia

Youth leaders from Australia and Asia want to “re-convene” in-person programmes and restart travel and immersion experiences, but they do not want to return to the way youth engagement “used to be” before Covid-19.

According to the Generation Asia Report 1: Keeping Connected report, which was released jointly by the Asia Society Australia and the IEAA and examines the pandemic’s impact on youth engagement in the Australia-Asia region. Many young leaders in the region recognise “the inherent value of travelling” to gain on-the-ground, in-person experiences, intercultural competencies, and language skills, but they also recognise “a growing need to foster forms of regional engagement that are not dependent on travel.”

The paper contends that in the post-pandemic world, future engagement will be “hybridised and focused on human capital.” The most recent report looked at “enablers” of youth connectivity between Australia and Asia, such as tourism, international education, employment, and civic engagement. It discovered that international student enrollment in Australian education programmes in 2020 and 2021 was “not as significant” as the declines in tourism and employment.

While the number of 18 to 35-year-olds from the Asia Pacific arriving in Australia “plummeted” in April 2020 and is expected to remain at very low levels throughout 2021, new delivery modes, such as remote study via online platforms and offshore study hubs, have emerged. According to Keri Ramirez of Studymove, the study provides a “more holistic” view of Covid-19’s effects on the connectivity of young people from Australia and across Asia.

According to government statistics, 584,820 Asian Pacific students enrolled in Australian education programmes in 2021, a decrease from 711,105 in 2020. In 2018, 682,111 students from the region did the same, and in 2019, 754,546 students will participate in programmes.

“Over the last two years, the number of student visas granted to international students from selected Asian countries has remained stable,” the report continues.

Students enrolled in Australian onshore education programmes while physically located outside of Australia were encouraged to apply for student visas in order to travel to Australia once borders were reopened. According to the report, it also ensured that studies completed outside the country counted toward the qualifying duration for post-study work visas.

According to the report, demand among Australian students for learning abroad programmes in the Asia Pacific remained stable in 2020 and 2021, with interest in virtual mobility peaking in August 2021. Despite the lifting of travel restrictions, demand for virtual mobility remains high, according to the report.

Students and alumni’s agency in connecting and advocating, as well as regional engagement and networks, has been expanded to some extent, but has remained “largely ad hoc and organic.” To support ongoing youth engagement in nurturing regional ties, it is critical to have a systemic and coordinated approach across institutions’ international offices, global study/learning abroad offices, alumni offices, transnational education programmes, youth-led organisations, and host stakeholders in the Indo-Pacific.

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