A number of universities and educational institutes have been luring students on the pretext of permanent residency in Australia; that is the only goal of most students pursuing an education there.
The Current Scenario
AU is the Indian born Sydney representative of the Federation of Indian Students ( FISA) has been fielding calls all day from bewildered students, distraught at the sudden closure of the city’s Sterling College About 500 students mainly Indians, who were undertaking vocational courses in hairdressing, cookery, community development and accounting, have been affected. Students arrived at the college to find it closed and are now left in the lurch. Some were close to graduating. The money is wasted and students’ future is going down. Affected students will now be placed in another college, where they will be able to finish their courses under an industry agreement. But the shutdown of Sterling College is not an isolated case; it is the latest in a string of controversies concerning Indian students in the land Down Under Assaults public protests by Indians, perceived lackluster policing, unscrupulous migration agents and substantial colleges have all contributed towards a growing unease about education in Australia.
This situation may be about to get worse. Announced by the Australian government late last year the changes make it more difficult for overseas students, who undertake vocational training courses to qualify for permanent residency.
Around 90,000 Indian students have flocked to Australia’s educational institutes over the past few years and now call it home. A huge swell in student numbers has occurred in the vocational skills training field – courses run by private companies or state run TAFE colleges that provide trade or technical skills where three quarters of Indian students body are being educated. The number of enrollments to Australian institutes by Indian students has tripled from 4359 in 2002 to 12,102 in 2008. However, this change has been even more dramatic in the training sector from less than 1000 from 2002 to 2004 to almost 3000 in 2005, 7400 in 2006, 18,600 in 2007 and 32,771 in 2008.
The surge in the number of Indian students applying to institutes in Australia occurred after the government made changes to its migration laws in 2001 that made it easier for students trained in designated skilled areas to secure permanent residency. The Migration Occupations in Demand includes hairdressers, cooks and community development workers. For an increasing minority the point of study in Australia is to gain permanent residency. Whatever the motive those seeking permanent residence will find that the migration selection landscape has changes. Just as the number of students pursuing their courses, or those who have recently completed their courses, reaches a peak, the doors for former overseas students who are general skilled migrants are now closing. Since the start of this year, Australia’s Immigration department has stopped processing applications of migrants with general skills, who do not have at least a year long work experience in the field. The department instead, is focusing on workers sponsored by private companies or government agencies and this change is set to have a profound effect on the number of Indians / non-nationals who will actually receive permanent residency.
The Australian Government is at fault for the explosion in student numbers. Most of the training courses are made to suit the Australian criteria. Take, for instance, a course in commercial cookery. The training can prove to be useful only for someone who stays back in Australia. In such a situation, a student is bound to feel cheated when half way through the course the government changes its mind and says, we don’t need you anymore.