Australia is going to start the processing of student visas to give a boost to the sector
Welcome changes announced for international students by Australia. Visa processing to start soon.
The Australian government announced that it would restart the granting of global student visas and allow present students to start online studies if they are abroad, to ensure that the country remains a priority study destination for the international students after it comes out of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Foreign students contribute $40AUD billion annually and aid 250,000 posts in labour market. As a result of border closures due to the coronavirus pandemic, nearly 87,000 (or 22%) of university students remain outside Australia.
The latest announcement by the acting immigration minister, Alan Tudge, comes as part of five measures to keep foreign students in Australia in the midst of concerns. Some will not return after the virus stops spreading.
The current modifications include:
- The government will restart giving student visas in all locations that are outside Australia. This means when the Australian borders re-open, students will already have study visas and can make arrangements to travel to the country.
- Foreign students can lodge a further student visa application free of charge if they cannot finish their studies within their original visa validity period because of Covid-19.
- Present study visa holders studying online outside Australia due to Covid-19 will use that part of studies towards the period of Australian study visa for a post-study work visa.
- Graduates who held a student visa would become eligible to apply for a post-study work visa outside Australia if they cannot return to Australia because of the Covid-19.
- Extra time will be given for applicants to provide English language results where Covid-19 has disturbed access to these services.
Tudge said the changes assure international students already in Australia and those who haven't traveled because of the Covid-19 border restrictions.
Tudge said, "These measures back the international education sector – our fourth-largest export sector – and will assist its recovery."
"In making these changes, we have been guided by the principles that the health of Australians is key, but international students should not be further disadvantaged by Covid-19."
"Students want to study here, and we want to welcome them back in a safe and measured way when it is safe to do so."
Dan Tehan, Minister for Education, announced the reforms would give international students confidence in their visa arrangements to obtain plans to continue their studies in Australia when it is safe.
The Australian government has earlier decreased work restrictions for foreign students who were working in the health, aged, and disability care sectors throughout the period of the pandemic.
Reacting to the announcement, CEO of English Australia, Brett Blacker, said visa changes, especially fee waivers, have been the essential components of the sector's advocacy efforts with the government during the last several months.
"It is fantastic to see the government make these changes, sending a clear message that Australia supports international students,"
Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia also embraced the modifications, especially the change that will allow international students to submit a further student visa application free of charge if they cannot finish their studies within their original visa validity period due to Covid-19.
"ITECA has consistently advocated for this measure to allow international students to continue their studies within Australia without an additional cost," said ITECA chief executive, Troy Williams.
He said a significant change would permit present student visa holders to study online outside Australia because of the Covid-19, and empower them to use that study period to count towards the Australian study condition for a post-study work visa.
ITECA, along with some other stakeholders, argued for this to be continued as a pathway that would allow international students to begin their online mode studies as a pathway for future study programs within Australia.
But, while Universities Australia chief executive, Catriona Jackson, approved the "sensible" changes for existing foreign students would provide confidence for their future study projects in Australia, "we need to understand what the changes mean for prospective students."
"We believe that new, as well as current, students should be included in the amended arrangements for post-study work rights. It is not clear that this is the case, and we continue to seek confirmation of this important point," she remarked.
"Many new students will be adversely affected by Covid-19, and they should be treated the same as continuing students."
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Australian universities and colleges face an approximated $16 billion loss due to the decline in the number of international students, further compounded by China's warnings that the country is unwelcome and unsafe.