Just a few hours ago, Australian Ministers for Immigration and Education jointly issued a media release (see link) informing the various measures that are being initiated and amongst them is the announcement that India’s AL for 573 will be lowered to 3 from 4 from April 2011 and well in time for the mid 2011 intake.
I am elated since the expectation built over the last few weeks was that Australia might experiment with some new ideas without a change in AL. Some in the know felt that change of AL will lead to abuse of the system and it will be back to square one. The readers of this blog will remember that several months ago too, I had prescribed for a change of AL and even when the packaging loop-hole was plugged following the identification of this by the AAERI, I had predicted that it can only be of use if the AL is changed. Then when the pathway-diplomas (christened Higher Education Diplomas) were moved to 573, the rumors were that the AL would now be changed despite other rumors putting the time-frame for any announcement to be much later. Those education providers who attended my briefing in September will have notes from my presentation where I predicted that AL change is likely to happen in time for the July intake, if not earlier. Finally the announcement was made today.
Time to rebuild the market is before us and the students and agents will need handholding and guidance from the Australian Government and its departments including DIAC at each stage. Communication is of critical importance between all parties and a level of trust has to be established. Early warnings from all stakeholders including agents must also get a fair hearing, as I continue to maintain that if the warnings were heeded earlier, we would not be writing this blog.
There are a few other measures in the announcement and amongst them is the prepaid boarding cost to be taken into calculation for available living funds. This is with immediate effect and so it is upto the providers to get their act together. The Christmas break will come in the way but those agile will be able to even do some better numbers for the intakes between Jan and May.
Will India respond? Austade and AEI should also take this opportunity to re-promote the Australian Education brand in Indian market. This is the right time and donot let the breaks come in the way. February-April 2011 should be used by Institutions to make multiple visits to India armed with promotional budgets too. Journalists and Media should be briefed properly by those responsible and the Australian story should be retold to all. Australia is a great place to study and has some fantastic institutions. They and Indians deserve each other.
It will take a few years for the market to respond but 2011 looks better now with the announcements. For some of us who were close to “curtains” are once again looking forward with “hope”.
Santa has come a few days early indeed!