The Australian government has announced steps to help the country’s overseas education sector “roar again,” including $37 million in funding for providers most impacted by Covid-19 and an extension of some post-study job opportunities.
The financial package includes $27.8 million in regulatory fee relief for 2022, a one-year extension of the current FEE-HELP loan fee exemption, and $9.4 million for the Innovation Development Fund, which will help ELICOS providers diversify their education offerings into online and offshore delivery.
Temporary Graduate visa holders who have been unable to go to Australia will be able to apply for a replacement visa, and the term of stay on the visa for masters by coursework graduates will be increased from two to three years, bringing it in line with masters by research graduates.
In addition, graduates in the Vocational Education and Training sector will be eligible for a two-year Temporary Graduate visa.
The new visa settings will also expand existing measures for students and temporary graduates, allowing time spent studying online while
studying abroad to contribute toward qualifying for a temporary graduate visa, according to the government.
Minister for Education and Youth Alan Tudge stated that the strategy will “help secure the fast return of international students.”
“It gives institutions and students clear incentives and ensures that students are not harmed by being unable to come to Australia earlier.”
“The Innovation Grants will be offered to help English language providers who have been particularly hard hit by Covid.”
English Australia CEO Brett Blacker said in a statement that the most recent ELICOS statistics from August 2021 revealed student enrolments were down 71 percent from August 2019.
The funding from the Innovation Development Fund, as well as regulatory fee relief for the Australian Skills Quality Authority, Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency, Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students, and the Tuition Protection Service Levy, was hailed as a huge win.
“When combined with the prior news of fully-vaccinated international students being permitted to return to Australia from December 1 and
English Australia’s ‘no disadvantage test’ for DHA ELs, a major boost to our sector’s restoration has been provided,” Blacker said.
Independent providers serve over 85 percent of the 3.9 million students in vocational training and around 10% of the 1.6 million students in higher education award programs, according to the Independent Tertiary Education Council of Australia.
“Because independent higher education and vocational training providers are still suffering, ITECA was a strong advocate for the funds to be maintained.” “We’re glad that the Australian government received and acted on this message,” said Troy Williams, ITECA’s chief executive.
The peak body welcomed the continued suspension of the current loan fee, which will assist 30,000 undergraduate higher education students, but ITECA will continue to argue for its permanent abolition.
“The Student Loan Tax is an egregious financial impost on people who borrow money for college in order to pursue their life and career goals,” Williams added.
The post-study work moves, according to AAERI president and MD of Global Reach Ravi Lochan Singh, is a “massive change” because it puts Australia on pace with Canada and ahead of the UK.
If their skill was considered a necessity, vocational students studying TAFE diplomas formerly earned an 18-month work visa.
According to him, the proposal would extend work rights to two years and abolish the requirement to nominate a skill from the Skill Occupation List.
“AAERI appreciates these changes to the post-study employment requirements,” Singh said, noting that the organisation has previously pushed the government to increase the length of work rights and the types of students eligible.
AAERI wrote to Minister of Education Dan Tehan on September 4, 2020, requesting that international students studying in Australia be given an extra year of PSW upon completion of their course.
“This will help in ‘return on investment’ and provide the message that Australia cares.”
The PSW offers appeal to international students who opt to study in Australia,” it stated.
In addition to the regional focus stated in 2019, the extra year should focus on major cities, particularly Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, according to AEERI, who added that it is a “well-established fact” that PSW programs attract international students.
A recent report also suggested that longer three-year graduate visas be introduced to help Australia deal with a skills shortage.
“I am thankful to the minister, and I am also very positive that Australia will recover swiftly and reclaim its position as the preferred destination for international students,” Singh added.
According to AECC Global, the move will “give students more opportunities to gain important work experience in Australia after they have completed their studies.”
“This is a big move that will make Australia a more appealing place to study for international students,” said Daryl Fong, chief operating officer.
“It’s excellent to see students who were affected by the pandemic and were unable to finish their education in Australia being recognised with replacement temporary graduate visas,” said Jake Foster, chief commercial officer.
“In the months and years ahead, Australia will be rolling out the red carpet for new international students.”
“The changes are targeted not only at supporting international students but also at helping us retain and attract skilled workers,” said Alex
Hawke, Minister of Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services, and Multicultural Affairs.
ITECA noted that despite earlier this week confirming border openings for December 1, 2022, will be tough.
“Opening the borders laid the foundation for the international education sector’s recovery, but the next year will be difficult.” That is why ITECA is pleased that the Australian government has agreed with our recommendation that continued financial support for the international education sector is given,” Williams said.
News Source: The PIE News
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