Gold Coast No longer considered a Regional Area

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News generally received with much appreciation, the Government recently announced that, from November 2019, it will be reclassifying a pre-existing definition of what it accepts as “Regional Areas” within Australia.

Currently those seeking visas, either to work or to study in regional areas, must rely upon complex groupings of post codes, spread across all states and territories of Australia. From November 2019 however, this will change significantly when the Government’s acceptances are unified and expanded to include virtually the whole of Australia; the only exceptions being the metropolitan areas of Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Precise post codes will be released prior to November, but these will be purely a formality.

Not all areas applaud the new definition

Quite predictably, one area which remains dissatisfied with this simplified definition is the Gold Coast; a city where a number of university campuses will be unable to reap the “regional” benefits from incoming international students. Local education leaders have been swift to voice their disapproval, attracting widespread press and citing a variety of theories, but rarely do they touch upon the core fundamental reasons for Australia’s regional settlement incentives:

As with Skilled Regional work visas, regional study visas form part of a suite of measures, designed to attract more migrants to settle in Australia’s smaller cities and regional locations, supporting their growth and helping to fill urgently needed employment opportunities whilst, at the same time, easing pressure on Australia’s major cities. Visiting students encourage infrastructure growth and the Government has even added postgraduate incentives with pathways to permanency, subject to terms of ongoing regional residency.

As one example of a “smaller city” Geelong, near Melbourne Victoria, holds its classification as a “Regional Area”. This is justified by its relatively modest population of only 250,000, its growth of less than 3,463 persons annually and its comparatively negligible tourism industry.

In contrast to all “smaller cities and regional locations”, with its estimated permanent population approaching 600,000 (560,000 in 2017 census) the Gold Coast has become Australia’s 6th largest city. Population is growing by 12,500 residents per year and the city enjoys a tourist influx of 13 million visitors annually. It’s essentially a holiday playground, a lifestyle destination; by definition, clearly not a struggling regional area.

Alternatives do exist

Representations continue from Gold Coast advocates and perhaps these will make a case for future reconsideration however, just a little further north, Australia’s Sunshine Coast offers many attractions similar to the Gold Coast; beautiful beaches, exceptional climate, magnificent hinterland and a thriving cosmopolitan lifestyle. It is also home to university campuses, yet it’s markedly different to the metropolis of the Gold Coast. As such, it’s still regarded by the Government as a Regional Area and international students are actively encouraged.

Similarly, many universities have campuses in towns and centres which are within reasonable distance to the Gold Coast itself. These universities broaden the scope of available study options whilst still providing for occasional weekend breaks.

Where are Queensland’s universities?

Queensland is home to eight universities, spread across a number of locations and at this point in time, apart from those in Brisbane city itself, it would appear that at least three campuses will be impacted by the exclusion of the Gold Coast in the new regional definition:

Bond University – Main – Gold Coast*
CQ University – Main – Rockhampton
Griffith University – Main – Gold Coast*
James Cook University – Main – Townsville
Queensland University of Technology – Main – Brisbane
University of Queensland – Main – Brisbane
University of Southern Queensland – Main – Toowoomba
University of the Sunshine Coast – Main – Sunshine Coast
Australian Catholic University – Satellite – Brisbane
CQ University – Satellite – Brisbane
CQ University – Satellite – Bundaberg
CQ University – Satellite – Cairns
CQ University – Satellite – Emerald
CQ University – Satellite – Gladstone
CQ University – Satellite – Mackay
CQ University – Satellite – Noosa
CQ University – Satellite – Townsville
Griffith University – Satellite – Brisbane (3)
Griffith University – Satellite – Logan
James Cook University – Satellite – Cairns
Queensland University of Technology – Satellite – Brisbane
Queensland University of Technology – Satellite – Caboolture
Southern Cross University – Satellite – Gold Coast*
Torrens University Australia – Satellite – Brisbane
University of Queensland – Satellite – Brisbane
University of Queensland – Satellite – Gatton
University of Queensland – Satellite – Ipswich
University of Southern Queensland – Satellite – Fraser Coast
University of Southern Queensland – Satellite – Springfield

So the choice is wide and the opportunities are many. Curriculums vary, from institution to institution, acceptance criteria also, but as with many fine academic bodies around Australia and together with thoughtful Government assistance, Queensland universities are welcoming international students like never before.

Allow professionals to be your guide

Immigration law is a complex area and one which is constantly evolving. Outcomes can never be guaranteed but comprehensive understanding, careful preparation and appropriate strategy are critical when optimising opportunities for positive outcomes.

For more information on this or on any relating issues, contact the migration law experts – Sellanes Clark and Associates – specialising in all immigration law matters.

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