27 February 2012

New Australia visa programme for international students

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Australia has begun promoting its intention to grant an Australian visa to international students who complete two years studying at one of the country's universities.

Australia visa

The new post-study work visa programme will allow international students to live and work in Australia for two years after graduating.

Starting from 2013, graduating students will be granted an etended Australian visa which will allow them to live and work in the country for a further two years.

The Australian education industry has struggled to attract international students in recent months, with applications from many countries continuing to fall sparking complaints from education authorities that Australian immigration reforms do not go far enough.

However, Australian trade commissioner Linda Yan claims that the new post-study work visa programme will go some way to attracting more students.

"It's a win-win situation," said Ms Yan. "We have a great number of international students that make a big investment to study in our country. They bring experience and a cultural mix to Australia.

"We are a strong economy who needs skilled workers."

Australia's place in the international market share has looked uncertain in recent times as its main competitors, the UK, the US and Canada, have taken advantage of Australia's strengthening dollar to offer foreign students more for their money.

However, the UK recently announced its decision to cancel a similar post-study work visa programme, a move many have labelled detrimental to its own appeal as a destination for study, and Australia is keen to capitalise on the UK's controversial move.

Speaking at an education fair in Macau, Ms Yan said Australia could offer Asian students, widely considered as one of the most important demographics for universities to attract, a better future with the new visa programme, even if the university itself is not the most cost effective.

"It's a challenging issue for schools, we try to show [Asian students] the benefits and the value of our education, especially considering a better income in the future."

Ms Yan believes many Asian students will now opt for Australia rather than the UK or the US has the country is "within the same time zone as their family so they can keep in touch. I also think the lifestyle and the multi-cultural environment are other selling points."

Ms Yan claims the visa programme, announced in November 2011, has already begun to benefit Australia as applications from Macau increased, with many applications in the fields of engineering and health sciences.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy London.

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