MELBOURNE: Australia bounces back as study destination for Indians

MELBOURNE: Australia bounces back as study destination for Indians

MELBOURNE: The Australian borders were opened for international students after the pandemic in mid-December 2021. And now Indian students are going back in big numbers. In fact, student visa lodgements (applications) have rebounded quickly since Australia’s international border progressively re-opened for international students. For the current programme year – July 1 to September 30, 2022, over 101,000 Australian student visas have been granted globally.

According to official immigration data from the Australian government, the number of student visa grants for Indian students in July-August 2022 is close to 9000. “The Australian borders opened up once again in December 2022 and we have been very surprised to see the rebound already.

The numbers are returning to pre-pandemic level and I expect 2022-23 (July to June) to be very similar. This shows a V-shaped recovery which is fantastic,” says Ravi Lochan Singh, MD of educational consultancy Global Reach and president, Association of Australian Education Representatives in India.

The years 2020 and 2021 were tough with the stringent Australian border closure and many other difficulties that international students had to face. Thousands of Indians who wanted to study in Australia had deferred their admissions waiting for borders to reopen.

“As soon as the borders reopened, we witnessed an astonishing increase in the number of students showing interest in coming to Deakin. The increase was largely from new students but also in part from earlier applicants who had postponed their study plans. It is safe to say that the demand for onshore degrees has almost returned to pre-pandemic levels for students from India,” says Ravneet Pawha, vice president (global alliances) and CEO (South Asia), Deakin University, a public university in Victoria, Australia.

For Deakin, 2019 was one of the best years in terms of student enrolments before the pandemic hit; when the July 2022 intake of student numbers are compared to the July 2019 intake, the recovery is almost 99%, according to statistics from the university. “While the sentiment was positive for March 2022 intake and we did get a significant number of enrolments, the recovery was still picking up.

The November 2022 intake is looking positive, and we have a very strong pipeline of applications for 2023 and are hopeful that the numbers will exceed pre-pandemic years for 2023,” Pawha said. Between January and August 2022, Deakin University received around 10,000 applications from Indian students.

One of the reasons for Australia gaining further popularity as a destination for Indian students was the announcement last month by Australia’s minister for education, Jason Clare that international students who graduate from Australian universities in areas of verified skills shortage, will get an additional two years in post-study work (PSW) rights in the country.

 At present, the PSW rules allow students with bachelor’s degrees from Australia to stay for two years after they finish their courses while master’s students can stay for three years and doctoral students for four years.

The Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa, or the student visa, allows recent graduates to live, work and study in Australia for up to 4 years depending on the level of qualification obtained. Under the Temporary Graduate visa, the post-study work stream is for international students who have recently graduated with a degree from an Australian institution.

“The Australian government has announced an increase to the duration of stay for Temporary Graduate visa holders who graduate with ‘select’ bachelor and higher level degrees by two years, informed by areas of skills shortage in Australia. Advice on the ‘select’ degrees will provided to the ministers for home affairs and education from a working group, which is due to report by October 28, 2022,” a spokesperson for Australia’s department of home affairs told Times of India.

Currently, student visa holders in Australia have unlimited work hours. However, student visa work hours will be capped again from June 30, 2023. While there is no guaranteed pathway to permanent residence for international students, there are a range of opportunities for those talented students seeking to remain in Australia at the conclusion of their studies, the spokesperson for the department of home affairs added.

“One of the key motivators for students to study abroad is global exposure and being able to do internships or a job is integral to developing a global mindset. Australia is facing a skills shortage and has announced several initiatives including increased post study work rights in area of verified skills shortage, this will be advantageous for Indian students who mostly go to study in-demand STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) or business courses abroad and will now be able to gain added real world experience to complement their degrees,” said Pawha.

The new Australian offering for PSW is now among the best of global education destinations. “It is a huge draw and allows students to be able to study and then be able to gain valuable work experience. It also helps with return of investment. Compared to the US dollar, the Australian dollar is very affordable at this time and most universities are offering scholarships,” says Singh of AAERI.

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