Visa Crunch

To Encourage Students, Australia Considers Making Study Visas More Flexible

Australia proposes to increase the migration points for professional year programs and expanding post-study employment privileges for International Students. As per some claims, Ministers in the government are “genuinely open” to visa reforms, and it is envisaged that changes will be implemented before the new year.

The CEO of International Education Association of Australia (IEAA), Phil Honeywood, said the proposals will let students who finish their studies outside of Australia post-study work rights, so “when they come to Australia, they don’t have to undertake any face-to-face learning, they can get their post-study work right based on their full study overseas”.

Furthermore, this plan would increase the number of migration points available for completing a technical year program in Australia from five to ten. According to Honeywood, the programs are now “extremely popular” among overseas grads.

“All of this feeds into a skilled migration push,” Honeywood explained, “which is now happening in Australia as we’re waking up to the fact that we critically need bright, resilient young people with talents that many Australian domestic students lack.”

The recommended regulatory changes will attempt to “truly incentivize students to come to Australia” and “really incentivize our excellent providers to go the extra mile,” he said. “That skilled migration push hopefully will really resonate with the different levels of government.”

The IEAA is pressing federal ministers to permit state and territory administrations to quadruple or triple state-sponsored skilled migration quotas, according to Honeywood. “A lot of state governments are quite keen to fill skill gaps,” he said. For example, the booming mining industry in Western Australia “cannot fill the demand for workers”. “It’s just a real problem that in the past has been filled by semi-skilled and skilled young people.”

“A very strong emphasis on caring for student welfare and student service delivery” is included in the future Connected, Creative, and Caring national 10-year strategy, he noted. It includes a 40-page Covid rehabilitation plan, as well as a new brand for advertising Australia, which was submitted to the minister of education seven weeks ago.

Austrade recently launched a campaign called Shine with Australia, which encourages potential overseas students to study with Australian providers online, at offshore or onshore campuses. The pandemic has prompted a rethinking of distribution methods, with Honeywood stating that Australia has “a very much reinvigorated focus on global education.” He added that more effort is being put into 2+2 programs, offshore campuses, and worldwide high school delivery offshore, as well as a significant emphasis on online and hybrid modes of teaching and learning. From July 2021, the University of Western Australia will open learning centers in China to provide Chinese students with campus experiences. It now has seven locations across the country alongside partner institutions.

The micro campus option, which began as a “retention type” tactic, has “evolved to become more of an attraction strategy,” according to Callum Cowell, Director of Global Engagement at the University of Western Australia. Cowell noted that about a third of the 550 students already enrolled in the centers will begin classes this term.

“The model that we’re operating now, I don’t think will go beyond border opening, but we do see a place for students potentially commencing in a learning center and then perhaps coming onshore afterward,” Cowell said.

“The other thing that we’re working on now is how we can leverage these relationships and this cohort of students in the professional internship space, in this case within China, so that we’re actually building that post-graduation work connection right from the get-go. So even if they’re starting offshore, they can be building that already before they come onshore to then perhaps return.” Honeywood went on to say that there is finally “some movement happening in the return of students to Australia.”

In New South Wales (NSW) and South Australia (SA), federally authorized student return plans will see 250 students per week and 120 students per week arrive, respectively. Victoria has submitted a plan to the federal government for approval, which would see 120 students arrive each week.

In addition, Study Queensland intends to submit a student return plan to Canberra in the near future. Honeywood pointed out that the exorbitant expense of a chartered flight, which will take the state government roughly 10 weeks to arrange, is not the only significant cost of returning onshore.

State government subsidies reduce expenses down to roughly $5,500 per student in Victoria, ranging from upwards of $9,000 in NSW to $12,000 in SA. The majority of those costs will be covered by universities, he said. “Four out of six Australian states are now obviously moving forward, and we’re hoping that momentum will pick up in the lead up to semester one next year.”

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