Study at Australian Universities02 June 2016 by News Desk
Planned changes to Australia’s work and migration visa system must take into account students seeking to study at Australian Universities.
The body representing Australian Universities has put forward a range of proposals in response to government plans to review and simplify the skilled migration and temporary activity visa programs.
Australia needs 3.8 million more skilled graduates by 2025 to meet future labour market needs so it is vital to get the visa process right, says education body Universities Australia.
New visa proposals include: recommendation that some visas be increased from 3 to 5 years; new skills categories be introduced; decision times be improved and that visa costs do not escalate.
Universities Australia says the review of the visa system comes against the backdrop of an increasingly competitive higher education market. Global talent is mobile and this means Australian universities are competing with other institutions globally to attract and retain the best academic and professional talent.
Training and Specialist Research Visa
This proposed new visa seeks to merge three existing sub visas to simplify the application process for applicants and sponsors. It will be important for the new visa to be flexible so it could be used for a variety of research activities including both fieldwork and short 3 periods of lab work for both paid and unpaid researchers at the post-doctoral level or otherwise.
Consideration should be given to enabling family members to enter Australia as visitors on the same visa as the main applicant, acknowledging that family members should apply for their own visa if intending to pursue work or study.
For those wishing to study at Australian Universities this new visa type could greatly simplify the visa application process for prospective research fellows, visiting scholars and post-doctoral researchers by providing just one visa type to satisfy most scenarios.
Universities Australia recommends that the government extend the visa validity period to 5 years instead of 3 years and thus align the visa with funding periods for major international Fellowships schemes.
A further recommendation is for removal of the requirement for a statement of guarantee from the Australian organisation detailing salary and conditions reflective of the Australian standard. This visa category is likely to be utilised by Australian Universities to host individual applicants who may already be funded through overseas organisations in their home country to undertake a fellowship in Australia.
Australian Universities Visa Charges
Visa application costs should not be prohibitive and should remain at a level where they constitute a small proportion of the overall cost burden of recruiting and supporting an overseas employee. This is particularly relevant where the role of the sponsoring organisation is that of a ‘host’ rather than an ‘employer’.
Universities Australia believes that skills assessments should be based upon skills requirements set by peak industry bodies based upon existing industry standards. A lack of alignment between industry standards and assessment requirements is detrimental to applications by skilled workers seeking to remain in Australia as permanent residents.
Sponsorship and Nominations
Universities Australia recommends a one sponsorship agreement to cover all programmes. We also recommend a dedicated processing team to support applications from accredited sponsors so a timely decision can be made. A delay in visa processing can result in loss of candidates as they accept other offers from competitor institutions.
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