Is Australia destined to increase its international students market share?

International Students Market

Alluring as it may seem to study abroad; going to another country is a crucial decision for students and their parents. Apart from the course fee, other factors like type and place of accommodation, friends, living expenses and recreation become equally important, if not more. However, securing the student visa is the most essential, without which, nothing else can happen. The process of acquiring one can be frustrating, full of palpitations and sleepless nights.

For decades, Australia has attracted international students to its shores from all over the world. The land down under is famous for its friendly people, sporting prowess and the great outdoors. Moreover, the cosmopolitan nature of its cities bodes well for many travelers.

In 2015, Australia’s revenue from international students market alone was nearly AUD 20 billion. Now, with some key policy changes, it seems the country is keen to attract more!

The recent shock of Brexit most likely means that lesser students will be travelling to the United Kingdom (UK). This is not certain yet, but given UK’s more stringent immigration laws, many international students, particularly those from the European Union, may now be reluctant to pursue their studies there.

Coincidentally, in the latest Australian immigration news, the country has made several important changes to its student visa policy by simplifying the earlier framework. Whether it is to capitalize on Brexit or make amends on what was long overdue, the Simplified Student Visa Framework (SSVF), implemented since 1 July 2016, seems to be heading in the right direction.

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Australia’s previous student visa framework comprised of eight subclasses, made up of a two-part system – Assessment Level (AL) Framework and Streamlined Visa Processing (SVP) Arrangements. These determined language proficiency, financial capacity and the academic aptitude of applicants. Over the years, many education providers across the country had started perceiving this as complicated, onerous, and somewhat bias towards the higher education elites. Under the SVP, it was evident that the higher education sector experienced greater growth in student numbers.

These included most of Australia’s exclusive universities but left out many private colleges and other equally legitimate institutions in the country. Now under SSVF, the education provider and student’s country of citizenship will form a combined unit that determines the outcome of a student visa application, mainly assessing immigration risks to Australia based on financial capacity and English language proficiency. The reduction of visa subclasses from eight to two has also made life easier for those involved.

The Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) supervises the registration of education providers in Australia. Registration with Cricos is mandatory for education providers who offer courses to international students.  The intention is to ensure that institutions meet certain quality standards before they can start enrolling foreign students. At the same time, it reinforces belief in the education provider for the applicant.

Australia seems well set to raise its stake in the international students market, with a lot going for the country internally and externally. More streamlined visa processes in place combined with a slowdown in other economies will surely help the country.  In addition, guidelines like Cricos will strengthen existing study parameters and maintain the standards of quality education. However, will this be enough for Australia to increase its market share? That is the big question.

One of the motives for students to spend so much on quality education in foreign countries is the prospect of employment after graduation, even if it is just to gain practical experience. Whether countries like Australia are able to accommodate international students in their workforce will be a determining factor for many applicants, albeit not the only one. This is generally a very sensitive issue for the country, which has a population of less than 25 million. In the past, this has been the basis of Australian immigration policy and will probably continue to be so.

However, if the government can show realistic prospects of post-study work policies, Australia’s stake in the international students market share can be much higher. Besides a few pragmatic policy changes by the government, it is still too early to say how much Brexit and other economic factors in competitor countries will affect the market. For more on this, visit https://agentcis.com/community/will-brexit-affect-uk-universities/