Minister Chris Bowen [Minister for Immigration and Citizenship] and Senator Chris Evans [Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations] have unveiled The Knight report and announced new changes in Visa rules for international students. These changes have been hailed by the key players in the International Education industry.
These changes are likely to lift the number of overseas students coming to Australia and will give a boost to the economy. This is a good news. International education is worth $18 billion nationally. Everything needs to be done to take it to a bigger level, while ensuring that the system is not rorted again. We do not want “Visa factories” again. These changes are likely to encourage genuine students, wishing to pursue education in Australia.
The main changes are;
- Fast Visa approval process for bachelor or higher degree University courses
- Less onerous criterion for financial support
- Changes in the risk assessment criterion
- 2-4 years guaranteed work Visa after finishing a bachelor degree or higher Uni courses
- Australian International Education will be able to compete with UK, USA and Canada more effectively
The work visa is a master stroke. This allows people to work without any restrictions. I have no doubt that it will make Australia a very attractive place for International education.
Indeed, universities have been given some preference in the new system, largely because they are the places for higher and quality education. These changes will help TAFE too but unlikely to help the private institutions which had mushroomed previously, and many brought bad reputation to the industry and Australia due to poor quality education and exploitation of students. These fly by night operators and shonky providers had done enormous harm to this sector.
Quality control and monitoring of providers would be the key to keep Australia in the fore front. University sector gets about 25% of its budget from overseas students. This dependence on overseas students should not be allowed to dilute the standards of education in the universities.
These Visa rules will be reviewed periodically by the Education Visa Consultative Committee [EVCC] which will recommend changes as and when needed.
These are welcome changes and should help the growth of the industry. Michael Knight, Ex NSW Minister and the author of the report, has done a good job.
Finally, NSW Govt should do every thing to promote its universities to the overseas market, especially China and India, by removing the apprehension about safety issues, working towards some system for accommodation support in the beginning, and establishing a system which will deal with exploitation of students. The bogey of racism and racist attacks which some overseas media had reported without real basis can be tackled effectively. NSW delegation is visiting India in November. In addition to every thing else, it should obviously also have a focus on this sector. Nothing will assure Indian parents better if they hear from Indian Australians of high standing that Australia is a safe place to study, live and work. I believe that the $5 billion international education industry in NSW can easily grow to a higher level, if key players work smartly and effectively. Victoria is the number one destination for these students currently, but it could easily be NSW. After all, overseas students will come to NSW as a prefered destination, as it is a fantastic place with beautiful cities, beaches, renowned universities and multiculturalism in its DNA. This will happen definitely, provided NSW has been marketed smartly in the key markets.
Yadu Singh/Sydney/23rd September, 2011