The US and Canada are competing to attract the international students that Australia is turning away.
Australia has seen its international student population plummet in recent years. The controversy over attacks on Indian students, a shake-up of the immigration policy meaning that many college courses were no longer on the Australian skills list, rumours of capping and ceasing visas and the near collapse of some private vocational colleges have turned students away from Australia.
Last week the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) spoke out to quell the rumours and reassure international students that they were still welcomed in Australia, but was it too little, too late?
The US now find themselves experiencing a wave of interest by international students, which could be just what it needs to boost its flagging economy. International students generate around $18 billion into the Australian economy. However it appears the DIAC have done just that. Applications for student visas are now on the decline in Australia, but on the rise in the US and Canada.
When students do apply to the DIAC for visas they find themselves faced with longer waiting times, uncertainty about immigration policy and a mistrust of the DIAC’s stance on capping and ceasing visas.
Top US universities meanwhile such as the University of California are now targeting the Asian student market, particularly in China. Chinese students alone made up $3.8 of the Australian economy last year. The International Education Association of Australia predict that 100,000 overseas students will be lost next year.
Universities are now in talks with the DIAC about the strict restrictions the DIAC have imposed upon opportunities for overseas students to study in Australia. Many want the restrictions eased. The Minister of the DIAC, Chris Evans, will meet Education Minister Simon Crean and education officials to discuss the threat of losing foreign students to the US and Canada.
But will their efforts be enough to lure back the students that the US and Canada are now tempting away? Source: Embrace Australia.
The Australian story illustrates how easy it is for a country to ‘kill the goose that lays the multi-billion golden eggs’. In the UK, where overseas students contribute £8 billion to the economy, the previous Labour government introduced a number of clampdowns on non-EU students and licensed private colleges.
English language schools, represented by English UK, recently won a High Court battle over visa restrictions – forcing language students to speak English before they arrived – which they say are ‘absurd and damaging’ to their businesses.