“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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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