International Students Concerns and Fixing the Migration Program
RECENT ARTICLE ON THE AUSTRALIAN : CONCERNS BY INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS
A recent article on The Australian discussed the Australian government’s plans to tighten visa requirements for international students as part of a broader review of the country’s migration system. The move is aimed at preventing visas from being exploited as a backdoor to work and ensuring that the international student system has integrity. While the government wants to create simpler, faster pathways for high-performing students with the skills needed, it also plans to weed out non-genuine students and tighten requirements for those studying in Australia.
The announcement has raised concerns among international students, some of whom may decide not to stay in Australia due to changes in visa regulations. The article cites the example of a Hong Kong student who is currently studying for an MBA at the University of Sydney and is deciding whether to stay in Australia depending on the migration policy. The article also notes that about 50% of international students who stayed in Australia after completing their studies ended up in jobs below their skill level.
The article quotes the Home Affairs Minister, Claire O’Neil, who highlighted sectors such as aged care, tech, and engineering as being in dire need of more workers, and suggested creating proper, capped, safe pathways for workers in key sectors. The article also includes comments from Navitas global head of insights and analytics, Jonathan Chew, who said that a cap of 24 hours a week on work hours for international students would be reintroduced in July, and that the success of the policy would depend on enforcement.
The article also quotes the chief executive of the Group of Eight, Vicki Thompson, who urged the government to consider creating a new “High Potential Individual Visa” to attract and retain the best students across the country. Meanwhile, the opposition education spokeswoman, Sarah Henderson, expressed concern about the lack of a coherent plan from the government to protect the integrity of the international education system.
Overall, the article suggests that the Australian government’s plans to tighten visa requirements for international students are aimed at preventing visas from being exploited as a backdoor to work and ensuring that the international student system has integrity. However, there are concerns among international students about changes in visa regulations, and the success of the policy will depend on enforcement.
POTENTIAL LONG-TERM RISKS TO AUSTRALIA
The potential long-term impacts of the Australian government’s plans to tighten visa requirements for international students and weed out non-genuine students are unclear. On the one hand, the move could enhance the integrity of the international student system and prevent visas from being exploited as a backdoor to work. This could help to create a more transparent and fair system that benefits genuine students and the Australian economy in the long run.
On the other hand, the stricter visa requirements and tighter regulations could deter some high-performing students from choosing Australia as a destination for higher education, potentially resulting in a decrease in the number of international students. This could have economic implications, as international students contribute significantly to the Australian economy through tuition fees, accommodation, and other expenses. In addition, if fewer international students decide to stay in Australia after completing their studies, this could result in a brain drain of skilled workers who are needed in key sectors such as aged care, tech, and engineering.
The reintroduction of the cap of 24 hours a week on work hours for international students could also have an impact on the economy and the interest in migration to Australia. International students often work part-time to support themselves financially, and the reintroduction of the cap could limit their ability to do so. This could potentially make Australia less attractive as a destination for international students who are looking for opportunities to work and gain experience while studying.
Overall, the long-term impacts of the Australian government’s plans to tighten visa requirements for international students will depend on how the policy is enforced and how it is perceived by international students. If the policy is implemented fairly and transparently, it could enhance the integrity of the international student system and benefit the Australian economy in the long run. However, if the policy is seen as overly restrictive and discourages international students from choosing Australia as a destination for higher education, it could have negative economic and social implications.
THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM”
The potential risks of not addressing “visa colleges” that offer substandard education services and attract non-genuine students are significant. If these institutions are not identified and weeded out, they could continue to undermine the integrity of the international student system in Australia, leading to a continued influx of non-genuine students who exploit the system to work full-time rather than study. This could further strain the job market and result in a lower quality of education for genuine students. It remains to be seen whether the Australian government will take action against these institutions, but failure to do so could compromise the long-term sustainability and reputation of Australia’s international education system.
Failing to address the issue of “visa colleges” that attract non-genuine students and undermine the integrity of the international student system in Australia will certainly undermine the success of the government’s plans to tighten visa requirements for international students. If these institutions are not identified and eliminated, they could continue to serve as a backdoor for students looking to work in Australia, thereby nullifying the efforts of the government to create a fair and transparent system. The lack of action against these institutions could also tarnish the reputation of the Australian education system and decrease the appeal of the country as a destination for international students, ultimately affecting the long-term sustainability and success of the Australian economy.
The point of “the elephant in the room” – tightening student visa requirements alone is not the only answer and will not be enough to address the larger problem of “visa colleges” that attract non-genuine students looking to exploit the system. These institutions are often supported by unscrupulous education agencies overseas that prioritize profit over the welfare of students and the integrity of the Australian education system.
Furthermore, the issue is compounded by the large volume of unregistered migration agents who are not held accountable under the OMARA Code of Conduct. These unregistered migration agents may (and often do) provide misleading information to prospective students or encourage them to enrol in “visa colleges” with the promise of full-time work rights and PR at the end of the visa process. This could lead to an influx of non-genuine students who are not interested in genuine study and could strain the job market.
Addressing this larger problem of “visa colleges” and unregistered migration agents will require a multifaceted approach, including tighter regulations and enforcement, increased transparency in the education system, and more accountability for education agents/providers and unregistered (and rogue) migration agents. Only by tackling these underlying issues can Australia create a sustainable and reputable international education system that benefits both genuine students and the Australian economy.
As always, the more transparency to the process, the more likely it is that it could become a smoother and more genuine system that can be trusted by all users. However, “the devil is in the detail”. Therefore, we continue to await further clarification from government as to how it will proceed to “fix the broken migration program”.
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