Visa Crunch

‘Structural Barriers’ Hinder Movement Of International Students To Australia: Research

By Yash Yadav

Australian international education sector has started welcoming international students to their campus following the country’s border reopening to qualified student visa holders from Dec. 15, 2021.

While Australian universities are welcoming international students with open arms, researchers say that students are struggling due to structural factors which hampers their ability to travel.

In a tweet, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) declared that they have welcomed 144 global students across three flights by means of the NSW pilot programme, in addition to many who arrived directly.

The University of Canberra and the Australian National University have likewise accepted their first cohort of international students in Canberra over the course of the end of the week.

Few students still are not able to return to Australian universities

The Lygon Group’s Angela Lehmann and Varsha Balakrishnan said that the opening of international borders does not remove the imbalance experienced by the students due to the pandemic.

They said various structural factors, which also includes the Australian universities that students are enrolled in and the programs they are studying, have impacted their ability to return to Australia.

“Many students are facing further structural barriers to their mobility that are unevenly distributed across the broader student community,” they wrote.

“What is emerging is a four-tiered hierarchy of mobility among international students based on their ease of movement in and out of Australia. Students are now either locked out, locked in, left out — or they are the lucky ones.”

Groups of international students who are presently being left out in their bid to get back to Australian universities include those who have received the Russian Sputnik V vaccine and a few Chinese Sinopharm vaccines, which are not accepted by the Department of Home Affairs.

International students who have been locked in Australia throughout the pandemic have been facing many difficulties including being unable to access government subsidy programmes such as JobSeeker.

Additionally, students from the fourth group or the fortunate ones remember those that have mandatory practical components and have been given preference for entry into Australia.

“Policymakers must recognise that, as borders begin to reopen, the challenges for the international education sector will not instantly end. In particular, creating clear and open channels of information is key as Australia continues to resolve these issues,” they said.

“Recognising the different levels of access and ease with which students can navigate national borders can assist in planning for a more equitable recovery for this group of young people, who are keen to return to study in Australia and who make a major contribution to Australian communities.”

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