Before the start of the year, the biggest foreign student population in Australia came from India. With the freedom of choice as to the courses to take and the flexibility of student visas becoming immigrant visas once gainfully employed, many other countries aside from India have favored Australia to find their education and eventually their future.
The recent governmental policies though have created a lot of confusion within the foreign student community. This was compounded by the death of an Indian student and several hate crimes aimed at the foreign student population.
Several quarters in the education community have raised howls over the current policy of student immigration instituted by the government. With the reinstallation of Gillard’s government in Parliament, there is still a lack of clear policy that the government is about to take regarding this issue. All that is seen is the clampdown on poorly run vocation schools and the application of new policies that disregarded previous credits by foreign students, making their stay in the country all the more perilsome.
Tony Pollack, the Executive Director of IDP Education said “There’s perhaps anywhere from 25 to 50,000 students and ex-students in limbo in Australia at the moment. Their visa status is only temporary and it seems unlikely they will be able to achieve the outcomes they were hoping for which is to be able to get work experience in Australia or to apply for permanent residency because of the way the rules have reframed.”
He has continuously urged government to create policy with transition before instituting the new student immigration rules and especially for the requirements for skilled and professional immigration. His group has recorded the steep drop in enrollees from over a hundred thousand in 2009 to just above a quarter in the current year.
On the other hand, Abizer Merchant, the Associate Director of International Marketing and Recruitment from the La Trobe University said that the problem is not about the students but what the perception of life of a foreign student in Australia. Many parents were horrified with the recent violence and they want to keep their children safe from xenophobes in the country. All in all, he surmised that Australia has a tarnished reputation as an education destination not just in India but in many parts of the world. This would take years to resurrect.