Mike Knight recommendations did open up an opportunity. However, I feel that someone is cleverly pulling out its punch and moving it towards: Much ado about nothing. I have already summarized the huge achievement as that it has changed the mood of the market from gross-pessimism to optimism. I also indicated that the biggest two gains have been the introduction of slightly lower financial requirements and introduction of Post Study Work.
Before I list my reasons for terming the implementation as “crafty”, let me first lay out the opportunity that OZ has.
Solely thanks to the Mike Knight recommendations and its apparent advantages to the students, the student market had turned to an upwards preference for Australia as a destination.
Setting aside the so-called expert opinions, we conducted a random survey of 100 students from Eastern India (between September and mid-November) to gauge the mood on the ground. The survey was aimed at determining the “first choice destination” as expressed by the “fee paying student”. I would like to point out that these 100 students expressed their opinion prior-to them being counseled and hence the survey does-not indicate whether they will be joining their first choice destination at all. However, it is a major analysis of the impact of the situation on the ground and deserves your attention.
The above clearly indicates that in this September – November period in 2011, the first-choice destination amongst the fee-paying students is still UK ahead of other competitive options. However, what is real-development is that there is a clear “drastic” decline in interest for UK in 2011 as compared to 2010 and if we compare it to other destinations, we can notice that in recent months, there is an increase in interest for Australia possibly due to the Post Study Work introduction there recently. There is also an increase in interest for Singapore while NZ and Canada which grew rapidly last year seem to be plateauing out now.
Now let me share why I feel that the implementation of the Knight Recommendations is happening but not-necessarily as was intended.
First I remind as to what Michael Knight recommended for Post Study Work…
4.1 All graduates of an Australian university Bachelor degree, who have spent at least two academic years studying that degree in Australia, and complied with their visa conditions, should receive two years work rights.
4.2 All graduates of an Australian university Masters by Coursework degree, who have studied that degree in Australia, and complied with their visa conditions, should receive two years work rights on successful completion of their course.
The FAQ too issued by immigration on PSW at the first instance simply provided a cut-paste of the above and hence implying that students who complete a Masters (by coursework) of any duration to be eligible for PSW. Under 4.1 Knight did recommend a minimum duration for Bachelors degree as 2 years but his entire purpose of listing the Masters provision under 4.2 is possibly that he has attempted to differentiate for Masters and not recommend a minimum 2 year requirement. Atleast, this is my reading. Read the above again for yourself.
Now, lets see what has just been put out on the immigration link detailing the implementation. The link is http://www.immi.gov.au/students/issues-impact-student-visas.htm
Proposed implementation of recommendations arising from the Knight review.
Post-study work rights (Recommendations 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4 and 8):
Bachelor (and Masters by Coursework) graduates who have spent at least two academic years studying that degree in Australia to receive two years post-study work rights
Masters by Research graduates to receive three years post-study work rights
PhD graduates to receive four years post-study work rights.
Do you notice the craftiness that takes away the real bite. UK has had Post Study Work after a Masters which in most cases was a one year qualification. Historically the Masters in Australia was between 1 and 1.5 years and was only made a 2 year program due to immigration point system that gave the points for Australian study only if one had studied for 2 years. If the Mike Knight recommendations 4.2 is implemented as has been mentioned in the Mike Knight Report, it would have meant a big-deal and a life-saver. However, that is not to be so… Immigration in its site is clubbing 4.1 and 4.2 together and indicating that Bachelors and Masters (Coursework) need to be of 2 year duration.
Well, I feel that someone does-not like the Mike Knight recommendations and is twisting them to derail the full reforms or its potential advantages. Hope that someone will bring this to the attention of those who drafted the recommendation.