NSW should take adantage of Visa changes for overseas students and market itself aggressively.

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.

Bowen-Evans-Knight-Media-release

http://www.immi.gov.au/students/knight/

http://www.smh.com.au/national/postgraduate-education/overseas-students-get-easier-entry-working-visas-20110922-1kncv.html

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/international-student-visa-changes-biased-towards-unis-tafe/story-e6frgcjx-1226144429513

http://www.couriermail.com.au/ipad/visa-change-to-help-foreign-students/story-fn6ck4a4-1226143636337

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

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Indian students in Australia:Fix the ills of international education!

There have been several reports about the assaults of the Indian students in Australia. These attacks have been called “Racist attacks” by the Indian media in India and some people in Australia. I do not agree with the “racist tag” for these attacks. I, like others, however condemn them and have asked the Police authorities to take effective actions to stop these attacks. 

The students’ issues are multi-dimentional and the stategy to tackle them has, by logic, to be multi-dimentional.

Following write-up will describe what should be done.
FIX THE ILLS OF THE INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION IN AUSTRALIA
 
31/7/09
 
You would have seen what was in the INSIGHT [SBS] and FOUR CORNERS [ABC] about International education recently. You would have also seen what was published on this matter in SMH and The Australian recently. Whatever is there is not pretty in regards to the International education. Rorts and scams are aplenty. Exploitation of students is the rule rather than the exception. Exploitation is happening in multiple fronts, starting from the agents in overseas countries and going to the schools and employments in Australia. There is no guarantee which certificate is genuine and which is worthless. International education schools have been called “Visa factories”. It has attracted headings of the nature ” A racket no one dares name”. It is really shocking and bringing a very bad name to Australia. Anybody who has a conscience must be getting agitated. I certainly am.
 
 It is about the time that we say “Enough is enough”. Not only the Aust Gov and its regulatory bodies must act but we the Indian community must act too.  If nobody acts, we risk the good name of this country itself getting a serious beating. It is not at a stage yet , I hope, that it can not be saved if the Gov agencies act decisively. We chose to live in Australia because we love to live here. If we love this country, then we ought to do everything which will not allow anyone to tarnish the good name of “Brand Australia”. We can never forget that this is the country where we have enjoyed and are enjoying our success and it is the country which our children will enjoy in future.
 
For our children’s sake, we do not want to have a situation that our education is looked down upon as useless when our children go for jobs all over the world. Some of our children would go and work all over the world as the the world has become a global village. Australia is a great country and we must not allow anyone to make it otherwise.
 
I have been in discussions with a large number of people from our background in recent days. I have also been talking with non-Indian Australians on these matters. It was gratifying to note that there was a general consensus about what needs to done in regards to International education.
 
In summary, it is about us including Aust Gov agencies, doing everything to maintain the good name of Australia and its brand recognition. It is also about maintaining the integrity of the Australian education and Immigration systems.
 
We will be able to do so if;
1.Australian Gov and its regulatory agencies do their jobs in exposing, investigating and prosecuting those who are involved in rorts and scams

2.Australian media exposes the rorters and scamers vigorously irrespective of who is involved

3.International students are guaranteed the education which they were promised when they signed the contract after understanding our system from authentic sources, before getting the Visa at the Australian embassies/High Commissions which is further followed by a verifiable and mandatory orientation here at the schools about Australian systems, ways, rules, regulations, what is On and what is not On

4.International students are placed in other relevant schools or refunded their money ASAP if they are unable to receive the quality education

5.Australian Gov and its regulatory agencies work ruthlessly and systematically in ensuring a good quality education for international students

6.Australian Gov works closely with Aust Universities and Overseas Governments in regulating the conducts of the education agents, operating on behalf of the educational providers

7.Australian Gov and its regulatory agencies consider the issues of infra-structure and capacity before giving permission for schools to enrol students and then monitor these issues randomly and frequently

8.International education and permanent residence visa are de-linked in an effective way by reversing some ill-advised changes brought in by Howard Gov around 2005

9.We have an international students’ ombudsman system for these students to go to if they have a problem with the schooling or employment as the legal system is very expensive in Australia.

10.Visa conditions are effectively policed as many work for far more than what is allowed

11.Australian police does effective policing in regards to crimes against international students by following the culprits/criminals vigorously and by being proactive rather than reactive

12.we, the Indian community approach and encourage international students to mix and mingle with the general “established” Indian community and by being the mentors to them in the new environment

13.we, as the community, take the initiative to establish an Indian international students’ benevolent fund to provide assistance to these students in certain well-defined emergency situations. The contributors for such funds must include students themselves, schools/universities, Australian Gov, Indian Gov and Indian community, knowing that there are no free lunches

There is some significant justification for a separate ministry at the federal/state levels for International education when this is generating more than $15 Billions which is number 3 earner for our economy. It is worth thinking about.

Assistance by the education providers in locating the appropriate accommodation for the initial 6 months and some subsidy for the transport would be other issues which should be considered.

We also need to make it mandatory that every student is maintaining the valid and current medical cover during his/her stay as the medical treatment is very expensive in Australia.
 
As far as we the Indian Australians are concerned, we must resolve to not socialise with the rorters and scamers from our own community. It should not be difficult as they are tarnishing the good name of our community and we do not want that to happen.
 
We also need to show leadership and tell our Indian media off for calling every assault on Indian students as racist attacks because 1. it is not a true and fair commentary and 2. it is potentially harmful to us. Australia has been projected as a racist country by the Indian media which is completely baseless. Indian media’s coverage has been hysterical, unprofessional and anything but objective. We, the Indian community do not believe that we are living in a racist country.
 
We need to project ourselves as a fair and caring society which we are but we also need to project us as a system which will not allow rorts or scams to succeed irrespective of who the scamers or rorters are. Jail is the right place if the rorter is an Australian resident/citizen and deportation is the fate if that person is a student.
 
Can we do it? Yes, we can. We do not have any other choice because anything else is going to harm the image of the very country which we love. I would even go to the extent of saying that anything else would be “Un-Australian”.
 
I hope that more would be ready and willing to join me in this……. A time has come when we join together and name this racket for what it is. After all, $15 billion dollars [out of which $2-3 Billion is from Indian students] is lot less than the long term harm to Australia and Australians if we do not do something effective to root out the rorts and bring in the fairness in the system for all the parties.
 
Regards
 
Dr Yadu Singh
Cardiologist
Baulkham Hills, NSW