The Australian government has announced that it will resume granting international student visas, allowing current students to count online study abroad. So as to ensure that the country remains a priority study site abroad as it emerges from the Covid-19 epidemic.
According to the media outlet, “International students are extremely important to Australia and our economy, providing annual contributions of $40 billion and supporting 250,000 jobs. Many also go on to become great citizens of Australia.”
These 5 Visa changes announced to ensure that the COVID-19 pandemic does not affect international students and ‘Australia remains competitive with other countries’.
The changes include:
- The Government will resume granting visas to students at all locations outside Australia. That means students will already have visas when borders reopen and will be able to arrange travel arrangements.
- If they are unable to complete their studies within their original visa validity due to Covid-19, international students will be able to apply for another student visa free of charge.
- Current student visa holders studying outside Australia online due to Covid-19 will be able to use that study to count on a post-study work visa to the Australian study requirement.
- Graduates who hold a student visa will be eligible to apply outside Australia for a post-study work visa if they are unable to return because of Covid-19.
- Applicants will be given additional time to provide results in English where Covid-19 has disrupted access to those services.
Immigration minister, Alan Tudge said, “These measures will support the international education sector-our fourth-largest export sector-and help its recovery”.
“We were guided by the principles that Australians’ health is critical in making those changes, but Covid-19 should not further disadvantage international students.
Previously, the Australian Government loosened work restrictions during the pandemic for international students working in the health, ageing, and disability care sectors.
The announcement was also welcomed by the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia, in particular the change that will allow international students to apply for a further student visa-free of charge if they cannot complete their studies within their original Covid-19 visa validity.
ITECA chief executive Troy Williams said, “A significant change will enable current student visa holders to study outside Australia online due to Covid-19 and enable them to use the study to meet the Australian post-study work visa requirement.”
However, while Universities Australia chief executive, Catriona Jackson, acknowledged the “sensitive” changes that would provide certainty for their plans in Australia for existing international students, “we need to understand what the changes mean for prospective students.”
“Many new students will be adversely affected by Covid-19, and they should be treated in the same way as students who continue.”
As a result of the pandemic, Australian universities face an estimated black hole of $16 billion due to the drop in international student numbers, further compounded by China’s warnings that the country is unwelcoming and unsafe.