AAERI Convention 2020 kicked off today and it was wonderful hearing the High Commissioner Barry O’Farrell make the keynote address. Most diplomats rarely speak with this clarity. His address (hopefully we will have a recording) dispels at this time that students from South Asia have chance of being included in the currently planned pilots to bring back stranded International students to Australia. There are 6000 such in India alone but since the bilateral travel agreements are yet to be concluded, the students will need to wait on. Most diplomats hold out dreams but Barry was being more realistic. Possibly a bit more than even me. In a reply to a pointed question by me, in view of the uncertainties around, he mentioned clearly that he is not in a position to even confirm that students will most definitely be able to travel back by first intake of 2021. The optimistic in me wants to believe that it will happen and thus will say that the High Commissioner didn’t reject the possibility that continuing Indian students stranded in India and prospective students will travel by early 2021. The High Commissioner did however detail how Australia and India are working closely to address issues around recognition of qualifications and how the future for the International Education trade remains intact despite uncertainty in the short term.
Text of the High Commissioner’s address is on this link
The focus of my presentation as the President of AAERI was that the only way to keep Australia as a destination in reckoning for students from the subcontinent is by ensuring that in the Post Covid scenario, the “Return on Investment” for the student who is investing in Australian qualification is attractive. Attaching here copies of the presentation and hope this helps sets off some discussions.
I will be keen to hear how you felt about the recommendations being made by AAERI and if there are other suggestions that can be included.
The speakers from the Department of Education (Brett), Department of Home Affairs(Tara) and Austrade(Stuart) did engage 450+ attendees on the virtual platform by way of giving their perspective around the theme of Roadmap to Recovery. It is not an easy job at all for any of the policy makers and we will be keen to see how things can work out. Tara in her presentation did point out that the students who are studying online and wanting to count that period of study as part of the ASR for the purposes of PSW should ideally be enrolled in a full time program. Full time would mean 3-4 subjects per semester. There is more on what the advise is as follows. This is what was communicated to us by the Department last week in reply to a question:
Please confirm if the online study can be part time and the duration will be counted. The study has to be in a 2 years cricos program and that we understand. Can the online study be in part time mode.
For studies to count towards Post Study Work visa eligibility, the Australian Study requirements (ASR) requires a student to study a CRICOS-registered course. The student must have successfully completed all course requirements as a result of at least two academic years (92 weeks) study. At the time of student visa grant the student must be enrolled in a full time course of study. If the student changes to a part time study load for a period of time and requires an extension to their Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) to complete their course, under National Code Standard 8.16, this period of study will only count if the student’s CoE extension is documented for reasons related to COVID-19 restrictions. A student must get approval from their Provider to change to part time study and providers must monitor the student’s attendance to ensure they are able to complete the course within the new course duration.. Approved part time study will count towards Temporary Graduate visa eligibility if the student was the holder of a student visa at the time and if other requirements of the Australian Study Requirement are met.
Vicki Thomson is currently the Chief Executive of the Group of Eight Universities. She attended the full session and from her presentation it was clear that she had taken notes from the other presenters. The feedback that we have received indicates that her address was very liked as she championed for the quality of Australian Universities especially for the Australian Ivy League. Pointing out the work being done in reseach including in the vaccine development and being realistic about the immediate term bounce back. She held out that the prospects for the quality Australian providers is intact even though we may have to wait a bit. She also talked of the future of Australia in the Indian sub-continent. In 2016 she was named in The Australian Newspaper’s Top 30 most influential people in Higher Education. In 2018 and again in 2019, the Australian Financial Review named her as the second most powerful person in Australia’s higher education sector after the Federal Minister.
Universities Australia’s presentation was by Dr John Wallard. He has been a long time supporter of AAERI and we continue to look forward to the engagements with UA.
The first day for this virtual convention has been perfectly concluded and I can confirm that the AAERI Executive team will be so relieved. As indicated in my address, AAERI executives do the job voluntarily and solely in the interest of the industry. However the time put in is sometimes even more than the time they give to their own businesses.
I look forward to the second day of the convention tomorrow.