Australian work visa eligibility for international students is set to be expanded to counteract an anticipated loss of the fee-paying pupils due to coronavirus.
The two-year post-study work visa is a significant carrot in attracting lucrative Asian students to Australia, and the federal government was now expected to expand eligibility to overseas-based people studying online, and not just those within the country.
The policy shift was intended to boost Australian universities’ ability to retain Asian students while borders remain closed, with North American and UK universities competing hard to lure them away.
Education minister Dan Tehan is yet to comment on the proposal but the visa changes were expected to be announced by the federal government in the coming weeks, The Australian reported.
The federal government is considering changes to its post-study work visa program to lure more international students to enrol in Australian courses. Pictured is a restaurant supervisor at the Golden Century Seafood Restaurant in Sydney’s Chinatown
Changes were needed as both state and national border restrictions were tightened over the past week due to a flare-up in COVID-19 case numbers in Victoria.
That had set back plans to fly in international students in time for the second semester.
Universities in New South Wales had been liaising with the state government to fly 250 international students into Sydney every day for 100 days, with flights having been expected to start within weeks but that was now indefinitely delayed.
A similar proposal in Victoria to fly in 7000 international students was also scrapped.
Plans by the University of Canberra and Australian National University to organise two 350-passenger flights for arriving students were also being revised.
‘We are continuing to work through the details of the pilot with the aim to return a small group of continuing international students safely back to their life in Canberra,’ a University of Canberra spokeswoman said.
The existing visa program doesn’t apply for overseas students unable to return to Australia due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Pictured are students at University of Sydney
Plans for international students to return to Australia in the coming weeks have been out on hold as Victoria struggles to control a second wave of new infections. Pictured are women in Sydney’s Chinatown
The post-study visa extension comes amid growing concerns from universities they will lose Asian students to the UK and North American tertiary sector as those destinations ease border closures.
Modelling released by the Australian sector’s peak body estimates revenues a $16billion drop in over the next three years.
Universities hope the work visa eligibility will allow them to compete with institutions in the UK and Canada, which are expect big numbers of international students to arrive for the upcoming start of the northern hemisphere academic year.
The federal government was also tipped to reduce or waive visa renewal fees for students who have had to extend their stay in Australia due to being unable to return home.
Plans by universities to fly 250 international students into Sydney every day for 100 days have been brought to abrupt halt. Pictured of overseas travellers arriving at Sydney Airport