Restoring International Education in Australia
The Australian government is seeking to restore education to its former place as a primary contributor to the nation’s economy, with plans underway to effectively streamline the Student Visa application process.
According to Department of Immigration and Border Protection, international education is one of Australia’s largest export sectors, producing income of A$16.4 billion in 2010-11. Furthermore, non-university, vocation-oriented education providers play a key role in supplying Australian industry with the skills it needs to meet rising demand.
As such, streamlined visa applications will not only be of interest to those looking to undertake their studies in Australia, it will also be of significant benefit to the Australian economy, and the various companies and industries currently beset by skill shortages.
Removing the Red Tape
According to Scott Morrison – Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, and Christopher Pyne – Minister of Education, assessment levels and visa processing will be simplified so as to make it easier for international students to gain entry to Australian educational institutions.
Under the new system, assessment levels will be lowered, and requirements for financial evidence will be less stringent. According to Pyne and Morrison, students will be able to apply for a Student Visa with up to A$40 000 less in the bank, making it possible for students from a number of key markets to gain access to the country.
The goal is to make Australian educational institutions as attractive to foreign students as possible. Up to 22 low-risk non-university institutions that provide Bachelor, Master and Doctoral degrees will benefit from the changes, and the economy in turn will benefit from the increased diversity in Australian education. Since many international students may be inclined to remain and pursue business and work opportunities in Australia, it will also lead to a greater supply of skills.
Either way, the influx of students serves to strengthen Australia’s international relations in a number of ways. Those who choose to return to their home countries do so with a greater knowledge of Australian life and culture, which can in turn lead to stronger business and political relationships between Australian and international organizations.
A Stepping Stone to the 457 Visa
Meanwhile, those international students seeking to study in Australia will be encouraged by the reforms, and those looking to gain experience abroad but as yet unsure of their preferred destination will certainly factor such developments into their decision.
With Australian industries beset by skill shortages, much emphasis is placed on the education system not only as means of producing homegrown skills, but attracting skilled migrants to Australian shores.
As such, the Student Visa can serve as a stepping stone to acquiring the 457 visa sponsorship, which in turn grants the opportunity to live and work in Australia. Although 457 visa requires a sponsor, the temporary Australian residency granted by the Student Visa can be used to seek out contacts and expand one’s network.
The Student Visa also enables the holder to legally work part time during the duration of the course, and full time during holidays, thereby providing the means to gain valuable work experience in Australian industries.
Further benefits of the Student Visa include the lack of age limits, and the ability to acquire it several times, as opposed to the Working Holiday visa which can only be utilized once. Applications can be made through the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection website, and waiting times are usually short.
In this increasingly globalized economy, it’s to the benefit of international students to attend educational institutions in English-speaking countries, and those educational institutions in turn benefit from cultural and language diversity. By reducing the obstacles that stand in the way of those seeking such benefits, Australia in turn stands to gain as its economy is strengthened by the influx of skills and expertise.
About the Author: Matthew Flax writes about Australia’s need for skills, although his own application for a 457 visa failed despite his best attempts to convince the board that “beer tasting” should be added to Australia’s skill shortages list.