Three years after a spate of violent assaults on Indian students in Melbourne and Sydney impacted the community planning to take up studies Down Under, their numbers have started looking up following a slew of measures introduced by the Australian government.
According to the latest report by Australia’s Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), India is second to China in the number of visas granted in 2011-12. Overall, 253,046 student visas were granted in 2011-12 until June 30, 2012. Out of this, 33,764 visas were granted to Indian students. This figure represents an increase of 16.6% compared with the same period in 2010-11. The Australian government, with states and territories, launched the international students strategy for Australia to improve the experience of international students studying, living and working in the country.
According to Australian Government regulations, all education providers who wish to provide education services to international students must be registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS). The process is now complete, with all providers on CRICOS scrutinised using the strengthened powers available under the revised ESOS Act.
The Commonwealth Ombudsman has been expanded to include the role of the Overseas Students Ombudsman to investigate complaints about problems that overseas students have with private education and training in Australia.
In 2009-2010, the Australian Education International (AEI), in collaboration with education bodies, state and territory government education departments, conducted a survey of current international students to obtain information about their study and living experience in Australia. AEI is currently undertaking the 2012 international student survey as part of the Commonwealth’s deliverables under COAG’s International Students Strategy for Australia.
On February 8, 2010, the minister for immigration and citizenship announced major reforms in the skilled migration programme to ensure it is more responsive to the needs of industry and employers and better addresses the nation’s future skill needs.
There are generous transitional arrangements for international students who hold vocational, higher education or postgraduate student visas on February 8, 2010. These students will have until the end of 2012 to apply, on completing their studies, for a temporary (18-month) skilled graduate visa.
Options for further visas and migration options remain for these student visa-holders, but there can be no guarantee of permanent residence. Holders of Australian student visas do not have an automatic entitlement to permanent residence (and never did have). Those who meet Australia’s skills needs, as articulated in the requirements for a permanent skilled visa, will still be able to achieve permanent residence.
In December 2010, the government commissioned the Michael Knight, a former minister in the New South Wales Government, to review the student visa programme to enhance the quality, integrity and competitiveness of Australia’s international education sector. Among several measures being implemented by the government in response to the review include the introduction of a post-study work visa for all graduates of bachelor or higher level degrees which will be available from 2013, while the existing subclass 485 visa will continue to provide an avenue for vocational education and training (VET) and other higher education graduates to access a work visa onshore on completion of their studies.