This is an interesting week indeed. I have also just returned to the chaos after spending a few weeks in Australia that allowed me to hear and share the viewpoints of several others in the industry…
Flashing the disclaimer of it remaining a “developing story”, both the concepts evolving out of the Knight recommendations are laudable and certainly aimed at propping up the languishing industry. It is certainly the caffeine that International Education wanted and now it’s the time for looking into the nuts and bolts of the details since there are several anomalies that needs fixing before it is too late.
Streamlining “key” Anomalies:
With no template or prototype available to Universities, there are several approaches to the streamlining. This is a possible cause for some chaos.
The “grander” Universities believe that they donot need so many checks since “wrong students” donot come to them at all. This is possibly true to an extent since stricter entry requirements, stricter attendance norms and higher fees do work as a screening by itself. MY WORRY: It is possible that there may be some students who begin with the grander University to be able to get an easy visa and then change institutions… What is the insurance? Catching the agents will not be a good idea since the students can be exposed to other influences once they are on-shore and may find the studies easier or fees cheaper elsewhere…
Most Universities are working on redrafting their forms so that they can collect some financial commitments from the students and know on how the studies will be funded. This is totally in line with the requirement but MY WORRY: Some of the Universities want the financial sponsorship details along with the initial application when the student at that time is not even 100% sure that he will get in and/or he will choose this institution from the various other options that he has. This is a wrong move and will actually deter the applicants. The better idea is what some others are implementing… which is : The initial application doesnot ask financial details… The offer letter thus generated is conditional to financials and hence before the issue of eCOE, the University is able to satisfy itself.
A linked issue is with regards to checks and the role of agents or University’s contracted local staff. Who will take ownership to the genuineness of the applicant? Frankly, the agent alone should be asked to also sign a pre-verification-checklist prior to request for eCOE. Only the agent is in the position and also having the skill-set that is required for the verifications. I am of the firm view that the current skill-set of the local contracted staff of Universities is not suitable for verifications of documents at all while it might be fine for the other roles… Infact, my recent interactions with University senior staff surprised me that many Universities donot really know why they have an Indian office… A clarity will not just help them but will help the staff and also the agent. With hardly any market left in B level cities and hardly any paper applications in the system now… the only area that comes to my mind as a ground for having a local staff is to enable out-reach activities and institutional linkages. To ensure that this happens, one would need the right qualification and skill-set though. Also remember that most Universities have already pruned their agent lists and there are only a few agents left for the recruitment staff to work with. The student numbers for Australia is also about 10% of what it was two years ago and though growing, not likely to reach the 2008-09 level ever again.
Post Study Work Anomalies:
There is a recent FAQ on PSW on the immigration website. it clearly indicates that students graduating and applying for PSW must have studied for 2 academic years (92 wks CRICOS completed in a minimum of 16 months) and in a course that leads to a Bachelors, Masters or PhD.
The details also go on to indicate that packages that total to 2 years is fine but a Masters cannot be packaged with a Graduate Diploma and hence implying that all components of a package should be either a Bachelors, Masters or PhD.
Wow.. Heads, you lose; Tales, I win…
The above just defeats the purpose of the AQF. How does a student studying a quality 1.5 year Masters be eligible for the PSW if he cannot add a Graduate Diploma or a Grad Certicate to his Masters… Asking him to study another Masters is grossly unfair indeed. In the same line of thinking, a student who studies at a TAFE can package into a Bachelors degree and be required only to study another 1.5 years to get a Bachelors degree and will also benefit from the introduced streamlining with this genuine and appropriate packaging BUT will not be eligible for PSW even after having studied for well over 3 years in Australia.
I also read somewhere that the students should have applied and started their “first” student visa after 5th November 2011 since the PSW is dependent on the student having been assessed under GTE when they first entered Australia. This is a disadvantage to those who are Australian alumni and are returning to Australia to study a next level program of study. it is also a disadvantage to a student who may have started their Bachelors in 2011 and graduating in 2013 and 2014. Something is not right. Australia does pride in offering a FAIR GO…
Come On Policy Makers at DIAC. Fix these and fix them quickly… PSW is a decider in the game!
This is not my only post on the topic and you can certainly look out for more commentaries to this developing story. My interest is purely to ensure that the industry wakes up and the new laudable changes are implemented correctly. After spending more than two decades here, I seem to sniff the areas that stink.
I know the immediate response for some will be to dislike my open criticism even though it is clearly pro-active and constructive. Am reminded of saying of KABIR that most Indians must have heard from their elders…
Nindak niyare rakhiye aangan kuti chhawaye;
Bin sabun pani bina nirmal karat subhaye.
(Keep a critic near you in your backyard for they will help you cleanse yourself without soap and water)
FOR ACCURATE AND UPDATED INFORMATION ON STREAMLINING AND POST STUDY WORK, PLEASE CONSULT WWW.IMMI.GOV.AU . THE ABOVE IS ONLY A PERSONAL COMMENTARY OF THE BLOGGER AND NOT MEANT TO BE COMPLETE OR ACCURATE.