Political amnesia and a wall of silence between federal agencies could propel Australian international education into a crisis worse than the “residency diploma” debacle earlier this century, an immigration expert has warned.
Abul Rizvi said that after-school work rights replace educational aspirations as the main motivation for many overseas enrollments. This risked encouraging shoddy courses as colleges tailor their offerings to students’ real goals, thus undermining the country’s educational reputation.
Dr Rizvi warned that policies such as removing limits on working hours for international students – a Covid emergency measure to fill vacant positions in healthcare, care, hospitality, hospitality, agriculture and supermarkets – turned Australia into an “unskilled guest working-class society.”
“Everyone still says that student visas are used to study. We seem to say that student visas are work. If you can’t enter USA, Canada, UK or New Zealand and you don’t have a lot of money, come to Australia as we will allow you to take courses where you don’t. don’t have to attend a lot.
The Home Office described the abolition of work limits as “temporary measures”, But did not say when they will end. The Council of Small Business Associations Australia wants other types of jobs to be included so that all international students can ‘work as many hours as possible’.
“We… have a shortage in many different industries,” said Managing Director Alexi Boyd. told the ABC.
Dr Rizvi, a former deputy secretary of the immigration department who recently obtained a doctorate in immigration policy, said temporary measures often tend to “become permanent” when it comes to migration.
He said he was particularly concerned about an idea launched in the new international education strategy to issue graduate employment visas to international students who had completed all their courses abroad, in another permanent adoption of a Covid emergency measure.
“The risk is that a lot of providers are offering cheap and low quality courses,” he said. Students would gladly pay a low tuition fee and avoid the expense of moving to Australia, “as long as they can get a subclass 485 visa on completion.”
He compared this prospect to the mid-2000s explosion in enrollment in questionable private cooking and hairdressing classes, as students in South and East Asia capitalized on rules guaranteeing permanent residency for students. graduates with certain skills.
The rules changed from 2008, triggering a collapse in overseas listings. Dr Rizvi said the coming crisis could be worse as courses at sea were “very difficult to regulate”.
Public servants were unaware of the risks because the turnover of public servants had limited the institutional memory of previous errors to only a few years. The situation was exacerbated by an apparent lack of communication between the education, home affairs and treasury departments. “They just don’t coordinate… to make sure their separate goals are met consistently. “
Dr Rizvi cited the new international education strategy’s emphasis on education abroad despite Treasury assumptions that net migration abroad (NOM) would reach 235,000 people per year – a a figure that is only achievable with a “very large” influx of foreign students, who represented more than 40 percent of NOM before the pandemic.
During a audience estimates in MayHome Secretary Mike Pezzullo – who is responsible for immigration – said he had “no idea” how the NOM projection was calculated. “You will have to ask the Treasury,” he told senators.