Australia reveals post-study work extension and $37m support package

The financial package includes $27.8 million in regulatory fee waiver for 2022, which is an extension of the existing FEE-HELP loan fee waiver through the end of next year, and $9.4 million in an Innovation Development Fund to help ELICOS providers diversify their educational offerings online and offshore delivery.

The visa schemes will allow temporary graduate visa holders who have not been able to travel to Australia to apply for an alternative visa, while the stay on a master’s visa for graduate coursework extends from two to three years, making it level with the masters by research graduates.

In addition, graduates of the VET sector will also be eligible for a temporary two-year postgraduate visa.

The government added that the visa settings will also expand the current procedures for temporary students and graduates to recognize the time they spend studying abroad online to rely on qualifying for a temporary graduate visa.

“Extension of innovation grants will help English language service providers who have been particularly affected by Covid.”

Education and Youth Minister Alan Tudge said the plan would “help ensure the rapid return of international students”.

It provides clear incentives for institutions and students and ensures that students are not prevented from coming to Australia early.

“Extension of innovation grants will help English language providers who have been particularly affected by Covid.”

In a statement, Brett Blacker, CEO of English Australia, recalled that the latest ELICOS data as of August 2021 showed a drop in student enrollment of 71% compared to August 2019.

The Innovation Development Fund funding, along with a easing of regulatory fees for certain fees to the Australian Skills Quality Authority, the Higher Education Quality and Standards Agency, the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses to enroll foreign students, and the Study Protection Service fee, was welcomed as a major win.

“When combined with previous announcements of international students having full vaccinations and being able to return to Australia from 1 December and a ‘no-defect test’ for DHA ELs, guaranteed by English Australia, a huge boost has been provided to restore our sector,” Blacker said.

The Council of Independent Higher Education in Australia has highlighted that independent service providers support about 85% of 3.9 million students in vocational training and about 10% of 1.6 million students in tertiary scholarship programmes.

“Independent tertiary education and vocational training providers continue to do this with difficulty, so ITECA has been a strong advocate for extending this financial support. We are pleased that the Australian Government has received this message and acted in accordance with it,” said Troy Williams, CEO of ITECA.

The continued suspension of fees for the existing loan that will benefit some 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students was also welcomed by the climax body, but ITECA will continue to demand that it be permanently cancelled.

“Student loan tax is a terrible financial tax that taxes people who borrow to study to achieve their life and career goals,” Williams said.

AAERI President and Managing Director of Global Reach Ravi Lochan Singh said the move to work after the study was a “tremendous change” as it puts Australia on a par with what is being offered in Canada and ahead of the UK.

Professional students studying TAFE diplomas previously obtained an 18-month work visa if their skills were deemed to be deficient.

He said the proposal is to increase work rights to two years and the requirement to assign a skill that is in the skill list will also be abolished.

“AAERI welcomes these adjustments in post-study work requirements,” Singh said, noting that the organization called on the government to extend the term of work rights as well as the types of eligible students.

A letter dated 4 September 2020 from AAERI to Education Minister Dan Tehan urged international students currently in Australia to submit an additional year of PSW upon completion of their studies.

“This will help with the ‘return on investment’ and convey the message that Australia cares about. International students who choose to study in Australia are attracted by PSW’s offers.”

The additional year should also focus on major cities – notably Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – in addition to the announced regional focus in 2019, AEERI said, adding that it is a “well-established fact” that international students are drawn to PSW provisions.

A recent report also recommended the introduction of longer three-year graduate visas to help deal with Australia’s skills shortage.

“I remain grateful to the Minister and I am also very confident that Australia will recover very quickly and re-emerge as a preferred destination for international students,” Singh added.

AECC Global suggested that the move “will give students more opportunities to gain significant work experience in Australia after completing their studies”.

“This is an important change that will make Australia a more attractive place for international students to study,” said Director of Operations, Daryl Fung.

Chief Commercial Officer Jake Foster continued, “It is great to see students who have been impacted by the pandemic and unable to spend time in Australia when they have finished their studies are being recognized on alternative temporary graduate visas.”

“Australia opens the red carpet to new international students in the coming months and years”

“Australia opens the red carpet to new international students in the coming months and years.”

“The changes are not only aimed at supporting international students, they are also a critical component of our economic recovery and will help us retain and attract skilled workers,” added Alex Hawke, Minister of Immigration, Citizenship, Immigrant Services and Multicultural Affairs.

ITECA added that although the border opening was announced on December 1 earlier this week, 2022 will remain challenging.

“The opening of borders has laid the first building block for the recovery of the international education sector, but the coming year will remain challenging. That is why ITECA appreciates the Australian Government’s acceptance of our advice that continued financial support for the international education sector is required,” said Williams.

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