OZ in November 2010 listens to our echo and my impressions of the new Skilled Migration Point Test.

“An echo (plural echoes) is a reflection of sound, arriving at the listener some time after the direct sound.”

This has been an unusual week and one that fosters optimism and hope for 2011 in the Industry. On Tuesday, a gathering of selective education agents and also some members of the press in presence of several officers of the Australian Post in New Delhi heard an eminent expert from Australian International Education Industry indicating the following:

  1. The interpretations and use of various stats on student mobility and the number of international student numbers tend to confuse and misguide and the only real statistics to gauge changes to demand for a country destination is the fresh student visa numbers. The reality is that there has been a severe fall in student numbers from India this year and he was quoting the DIAC statistics.
  2. The Minister for Education of Australia (while in Beijing) has reportedly criticized the student visa regulations which have become a detriment in the growth of the industry and is not serving the purpose. There are indications that he will be recommending to the Minister for Immigration to review them.
  3. An urgent need for all to come together to re-launch brand Australia.

He is right in making the points but these points are not being made for the first time. No. Not at all. I have argued over last 4 years that the use of enrolment stats by Australia often ends up misguiding and confusing the decision makers. The point has been repeatedly made and even recently, I attacked the attempt to spin the reality with the help of enrolment stats that painted a better picture but just a picture nevertheless. The second point too has been the one that AAERI has lobbied for and provided “formal and informal” submissions to the then Minister of Immigration directly or through their office. Wait a minute here: The Minister for Immigration of that time is the current Minister for Education and hence the Minister seems to be acknowledging finally that the regulations that he introduced and decided upon have indeed become an undesired “cocktail”. AAERI too has been shouting to all who matter that there is need to re-launch the Australian Education Brand in the Indian market and this job has to begin with the Government and others pooling in. I have written on the need to re-create a “pull” for quality Australian Education in my blogs.

This is the reason why I refer to the comments as an “echo” but certainly welcome. I want to thank all for coming around to the views here… This gives us fresh optimism for 2011. Now the voice will be louder and hence the echoes will be more effective.

Fresh optimism also arise from the New Point Test for General Skilled Migration announced in Australia yesterday.

Though not a Migration “expert” or a Migration “agent”, I have been involved with the industry for a sufficient period of time to be able to gather its merits and demerits. Having said this, my comments below remains an opinion only and can still be plagued by biases. (Though I hope not.)

I find the new point-test to be a huge directional change as far as it attempts at favouring the “university graduates” over “vocationals”.

However, I failed to find any implementation of the hyped commentaries that Australia was delinking migration from international education. I have always maintained that it is just not possible to delink the two as they inter-dependent. Students travelling overseas from markets like India or China do and will continue to seek “post study work or settlement opportunities” and I have made this point even in my earlier blogs. The new point-test too maintains the link in future.

There are several ways in which education will continue to remain a pathway to migration and it is not unique to Australia. Under the proposed point-test, International students graduating after two years of study will get 5 points extra which appears to be of critical importance when the pass mark for PR will be 65. International students who choose to study at campuses away from larger cities will get another 5 points AND there are 5 points for 1 year Australian work experience that in my opinion will be easier for graduating students who move to subclass 485-visa post study. The professional year gives 5 points and can now be counted as additional (not in lieu) of the 1-year OZ experience points.

I want to say THANK YOU to the Minister and the department.

Saying THANK YOU are possibly the following others in Australia:

  1. Migration Agents may find that the new system opens opportunities for them in offshore markets where those with minimum 6.0 IELTS can quite easily make it with a few years of experience and points from partner’s qualification. Also the regional sponsorships will keep them busy.
  2. Private Education Providers are possibly smelling “quick bucks” by way of onshore students attempting to undertake parallel English Classes to enable a higher IELTS and possibly some who might need tutoring for them to clear the requirement for the community language points. The “professional year” is worth exploring too.
  3. Onshore education agents may attempt to market the “professional year” courses and programs and enable thousands of the currently enrolled vocational students at TAFEs to either move through a package onto degrees or move institutions from private diplomas to the universities.
  4. IELTS Australia will certainly once again come out smiling. The unfortunate monopoly that IELTS enjoys (despite TOEFL and PTE lobbying hard) ensures that the higher IELTS score requirements will result in applicants retaking the IELTS several times to clear the tough requirements.
  5. Those in the age group of 30-32 and 45-50 will be delighted with the new point test. The highest points for age are now allotted up-to the age of 32 (and not 30) and the ceiling has been raised to under 50 from the earlier limit of 45.

These are the positives but there are those who seem to be quite disappointed and would say “rightly so too” in “some” cases.

  1. Vocational Courses and providers have been dealt a severe blow. The students who undertake these courses are certainly more “job ready” but will find the point-test more difficult due to less points for diplomas and also due to minimum bench marks set for English proficiency even though their work skills require lower levels. Vocational students at the most undertake 2-year diplomas and hence the age of the graduating student will mostly be around early 20s and now they will get fewer points for being under 25. I feel that Australia has failed to address the needs not just of the TAFE providers who offer quality training but will also lead to skill shortages in Australia in fairly near future once again.
  2. The issue of lower points for those less than 25 years of age also disadvantages graduating Bachelors degree students. Historical evidence will indicate that those who undertake a Bachelors degree over 3 or 4 years in Australia fit in better in the country’s work place even over those who come with Bachelors from elsewhere and undertake a shorter Masters degree.
  3. The provision for the highest English language points to those with 8.0 score in IELTS is too too severe. I challenge an “average” Australian University graduate even with a “distinction” in academics to take the IELTS and get this score in the first attempt. Doctors. Nurses and Teachers world over and including in UK are required to only provide evidence of 7.0 in IELTS which too is considered quite a high bench mark and hence the new 8.0 score requirement for the maximum points is only going to rich-en the providers of the IELTS as the students will be forced to retake IELTS several times.
  4. In India, markets like Punjab, Gujarat and possibly even Hyderabad will find fewer takers even for the quality Aussie degrees or programs.

Having said the above, I welcome the new point-test for two reasons. Firstly, it maintains the pathway for international students studying in Australia to move to PR despite all politically noisy arguments and Secondly, it puts an end to the 9 months of labour(!) ever since the government’s announcement in February that the system will be revamped and then began introducing the policies in “installments” leading to utter chaos.

Now that we have the bricks delivered we can begin re-building Australia once again in the Indian minds.

Disclaimer: Though not a Migration “expert” or a Migration “agent”, I have been involved with the industry for a sufficient period of time to be able to gather its merits and demerits. Having said this, my comments below remains an opinion only and can still be plagued by biases. (Though I hope not.). More authoritative information can only be found on http://www.immi.gov.au

27 Comments

  1. thanks for ur article.
    could i ask u wat abt d aug 2007 applicants???
    who have been waiting from aug 2007 till date
    nov.’11?

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    1. Thanks Jag. Have gone through this now. I am appreciating the point-test too but donot agree that the education has ceased to be a pathway to migration. Its just that it may have ceased to be a pathway following one type of courses and has now begun for other type of courses… The preference of the University over the low quality diplomas is good. The Universities need numbers and they will show and create the pathway to the students post their courses. Regional Universities will push their stuff too and whether it is written in the brochures or not, the message will reach the students that studying with them will give them an advantage. Australia needs migrants and students who study in Australia will certainly find it easier. Secondly the notion that you spend money first on courses and then take PR will remain even more now and the costs will be higher. I am not criticising the new point test at all and am seeing opportunities here for us.

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  2. I agree with your observation.IELTS score of 7 is good enough .I do feel the skilled needed in Australia are welcome. I hope the Australian government works further
    on practical ways to make it easier for talented students to enter the educational institutions.The government should learn from UK visa requirements.

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    1. I fully agree here. However even 7 is quite difficult and I wonder whether accountants and engineer need english skills at this level. It can be understood for occupations such as teachers, doctors and nurses…

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  3. I kind of forgot about levels and subclasses after a long gap. I am only concerned about the Aus dollar value going up, which is further killing the market.

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    1. There are four reasons identified for the drop in interest for Australia on part of Indian students: 1)Student Safety issues, 2)Student Visa hurdles, 3)Anxiety related to PR regulation changes AND 4)A$ appreciation. Interestingly, education experts feel that first three are in their control but not the fourth one. I differ here too. The fourth too can be managed. What baffles me is that the Universities continue to hike their tuition fees when what they should be doing now is offering bursaries to ensure that the demand meets the supply. Academics teach economics but rarely follow it themselves. The same applies to marketing and international business…

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  4. well Ravi ji…i agree with you but i think we are still in the early days…..the changes are quiet big and by next year we will see the impact it is going to make…..though i can smell some…but would really…not like to comment here, will do that when i see you……But definate a very very good blog……cheers

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  5. I AM GLAD U HAVE DISCUSSED THE NEW POINT TEST ;

    IELTS 7.0 FETCHES 10 POINTS ,

    MOST STUDENTS FIND IT SO VERY DIFFICULT TO ACHIEVE 7.0 OVERALL SCORE

    INDER

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    1. Panjwaniji, Indians will still possibly manage 7.0 in IELTS after a few attempts and some may also annex 8.0 but what about students from China or Thailand or any other such nationality?

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  6. Thanks Ravi for the update and we can see a silver lining in the dark clouds after a long time which is a great relief to all of us . The important thing to note is that Education has not ceased to be a pathway to migration in OZ as in other countries as well. However, IELTS of 8.0 to get maximum marks is a wishful thinking and seems unrealistic and I agree that most of good Aussies students will struggle to score or get close to it. So far so good and lets hope we are back to business in 2011. Also you have mentioned that it puts an end to 9 months of Labour, but that is a UNIVERSAL FACT, I believe, SIR.

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  7. Hi Ravi,
    It has always been a pleasure reading your blogs. The new point test certainly delights me as it honors 20 points for Overseas Phd qualification. Uptil now Australia was seen as a hub for low skill / vocational qualification. Today a new foundation is laid towards making Australia a knowledge / research hub for future.
    Regards
    Rahul

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    1. I agree that the point-test looks good for overseas PhDs but Rahul, I still think that it is not as delightful as it appears for them. All applicants for PR have to first be from the SOL and we all know that PhDs are so inter-disciplinary and so academic that they will not pass the assessments for the occupation categories on the list. To give an example: Do you think that a PhD applicant who has his strengths with say “dual taxation issues” will get assessed as an “accountant” by CPA Australia. Maybe and Maybe Not… Its easier for Masters by coursework to get the appropriate course content to get approval than say a doctorates… Still it is a way forward.

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  8. very well diagnosis of the recent changes. However, there might be further changes in the pipeline. It seems that the Australian immigration is confused on the policy required to match the skill in demand currently and near future. So they are bringing the changes to the system so frequently. It is yet to know ,will it help the already lodged application on a fast track route or will be pushed to a slow track like in canadaand all

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    1. Narayanji, this is quite a big announcement. OZ has already taken out the new SOL in July and this is linked to that. This comes into effect from July 2011 and the FAQ on the site clearly indicates that all applications lodged prior to that will be processed under the old system…

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  9. Here are my thoughts on the new Points Test:

    Overseas qualifications will have to be from “recognised” institutes. So, only top most universities will be included. This is my understand and I could be wrong.

    For 476 visas, I there only 4 universities from India are included. The list is on DIAC website. So, not so easy for overseas applicants. As Ravi mentioned, qualifications have to be relevant to SOL occupations. Also, overseas applicants will need minimum 5+ years of experience to meet points test, alongwith 7 each in IELTS. Not an easy task! Also, applicants from “recognised” institutes will most probably look forward to US, not AUS. Australia’s reputation with “Capping Bill” has already taken the hit.

    International students, even with Bachelor Degrees + 7 IELTS won’t pass points test. Master course won’t help. How many international students from India continue to PhD? I have no idea.
    Majority of students from India have no prior work experience and have little prospects of getting full time work in their nominated occupations.
    Most are applying 885s after completing Professional Years now, which now fetches 10 points. This will reduce to 5 points post July 2011.

    VET students have no chance except RSMS pathways. With the kind of quality we have seen, not many genuine employers will offer sponsorships to them. Already hearing about 1000s of ENS/RSMS applications lodged which are not even valid. This is a fact from DIAC’s own mouth.
    Also hearing about lots of “jugaads” in RSMS sector with Indian restaurants being opened up in regional areas (more than 4 restaurants in a small town where even 1 would struggle to operate).

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    1. Jag,

      you are more qualified to comment on the migration aspects than me. However, I do think that you are wrong regarding the “recognised” overseas courses. It will be too much for Immigration to keep listing “recognised” courses and they are more likely to go with the country profiles that are put out by AEI and others. Even right now they accept the various Indian qualifications and I donot think that this will change.

      Having said this, since PhDs are academic and not with the occupational memberships, they are not likely to get someone a positive assessment under the SOL occupations. Also did you realise that even the Indian Prime Minister, who is supposedly the most qualified of the academics around, would have failed the test as economists are not SOL… There is something amiss here for sure with regards to PhD and they will discover this soon. Assessing bodies look for certain courses and subjects to have been covered and PhD being research will not help here.

      I also did my adding of points and feel that 2 year Masters with 7 in IELTS will be fairly close to the pass mark if they are between 25 and 32 years of age and if they have 1 year work exp, they are likely to clear the pass mark.

      I know more details will emerge with time…

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  10. Totally agree that the provision of EL points (IELTS) at 8.00 is too severe.

    Got some information/ comments from some experts which I want to share.

    Students enrolled with a VET Provider for Cookery, Pastry, Bakery, Hair Dressing, Horticulture, Pre-Press Printing, Community Welfare, Business will not be eligible to apply for on-shore Permanent Residence. Under the new SOL, ANZCO requires a Cert III & Cert IV, in addition to this students must engage themselves in a Job Ready course The course / job (occupation) which the student plans to undertake after completing the course should be on the New SOL. The points can be claimed only for one qualification. Not 10 for Cert III/IV. International Student with some trade qualifications in Motor Mechanic, Electronic Trades person & Painting, will find it difficult to compete with domestic students who have completed a 3-4 year apprenticeship for a job. Plus most students enrolled with a Private VET Provider will not obtain a score of 7 in each of IELTS band. In addition to this State Sponsorship will be impossible to obtain as states like VIC / NSW has quotas and require work experience. The sub-class 457 work visa minimum wage is around AUD 47480. I doubt any employer will employ an International student (fresh graduates) on a wage of AUD 47,480 initially.

    In addition to this I think this policy will have a adverse effect on VET providers. Overseas students especially from India are unlikely to enroll with private VET providers. A number of good private providers will hand over their registration (may close their operations). But still “Dodgy” providers will continue to rake in money without providing training

    Some VET providers with courses like telecommunications or IT or Accounts who have a pathway to a Bachelor’s Degree may survive. However they will have to provide quality training to equip student with skills to find a suitable job. So if students have a JOB after completing the course they are IN.

    Well lastly postgraduate students studying in Australia may find things easier.

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    1. Nishi, the new point-test is certainly turning the paradigm “ulta”. Universities will have an advantage though VET will face unemployment prospects due to low international student numbers. However they can possibly still work on packaging and make it up… Many TAFE are already running some Bachelors degrees.

      If I was to recommend something; There is an opportunity here for them to follow the co-op education model of USA in parts. Run a package that has 2 year diploma, 1 year work exp and then 1 year with an University to finish the degree. Will help. I think it is possible.

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      1. Yes Ravi there is an opportunity for Oz institutes to follow the co-op system like other countries and maybe providers will look into this.

        The University (post graduate) students have an advantage in all this, however I think its time for the OZ govt to look into the assesment level for post graduate students and make things easier for the good genuine students

        Lets hope for the best

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  11. I agree with you on two impotant issues. Even a score of 7 in IELTS is tough even fo good students. The minimum age of 25 fo points is a bg disadvantage. Most students will pehaps graduate earlier than 25.

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  12. well firstly a couple of things , i have finished my studies in la trobe university and went through global reach kolkata , i filed for permanent residency 2 days after the new points test was announces . i

    i want to stress on a couple of things that i have felt staying australia for the past 2 and a half years

    firstly this points test was long overdue , eversince i landed in australia i was confronted by a barrage of indians in low skilled jobs and this in effect was showing inidans as a class of 7/11 or petrol pump station workers which we certainly are not , other than these was the impression that one got was that of the Punjabi taxi driver from a village in punjan and was typically a cookery student and probably never had seen his university , but still could end up getting residency . So i welcome the new points test which places a 8 band IELTS for migration .

    secondly a factor in the revamp of th is sector has been the student attacks ,, racist or not i a mnot going to comment on the nature of these attacks but i can say with cofidence that melbourne’ west has borne the brunt of these attacks . i can say that most of these attacks on indian students has been by sudanese or lebanese youngsters who themselves are migrants here , the problem is that we in india are very very quick to point fingers at australia , when we ourselves are racist , whe na tamilian goes to delhi he is called a madrassi ,, isnt that racist ??

    thirdly and most importantly australian govt is well within its rights to regulate the entry of qualified people in australia so if now they feel that they have enough cooks and hairdressers or even accountants and want more nurses /doctors / engineers , i am not complaining simply because in hospitals in australia its a sad situation that once when i had cut in my finger and was bleeding i was made to wait for 8 hours to see doctor in a hospital ,

    in short we have to understand the concerns of the people of australia when they see a recent indian migrant who cant even speak competent and by that i mean a 7 band score english , trust me they get worried .
    As for aspiring indians wanting to migrate to australia i would say come and study in australia , i have and its a wonderfull experience but try and get some work experience before you come and make sure you have a 8 band otherwise dont bother applying for australian permanent residency

    Like

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