Overseas student organisation hits out at visa changes in Australia

by Ray Clancy on July 16, 2010

Recent changes to permanent residency rules in Australia unfairly target foreign students, according to an international student body.

The Council of International Students Australia (CISA) is calling for the Australian visa system to be changed so it does not place restrictions on those who are studying from overseas.

It also wants an improvement in accommodation available for students and for the states of New South Wales and Victoria to extend travel concessions to international students.

CISA president Robert Atcheson, an American law student studying at the Australian National University, said that recent changes to permanent residency rules unfairly targeted students.

Atcheson said students have arrived in Australia with an expectation that if they complete their studies they would be eligible to apply for permanent residency. These students were already in Australia and have already paid their fees, he said.

Now the Australian Government though has changed the occupations eligible for permanent residency and placed more emphasis on employer sponsorship in an effort to stop overseas students from coming to Australia to study purely as a means of securing residency.

The government responded and said it has introduced transitional arrangements including an 18 month Australian visa for recent graduates to try to secure work experience and employer sponsorship, thereby allowing them to stay in the country.

Demand is surging for visas, as more people want to live in Australia because of its booming economy, laid back lifestyle and good climate. Record numbers of British people are arriving but they are not rushing to Sydney or Melbourne and instead heading for Brisbane.

Every tenth person in the city is a British national according to research from banking giant Nat West.

Brisbane, a sunny and tropical capital has the fastest growing population of all Australian cities with more than 1,000 new arrivals every week. New arrivals like the laid back lifestyle, affordable private education and ease of transportation in the city.

It should be no surprise, as migrants tend to move to a country when there are good economic conditions, according to Peter McDonald, a leading demographer at the Australian National University.

He said that population growth is not independent of the economy and that both migration and fertility rates are products of economic conditions. While Australia has experienced low times of migration, for example during the 1890s, the 1930s, the mid 1970s and the mid 1990s, the historic highs of Australian migration in the past few years have been because of the economic boom conditions.

The most recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed Australia’s employment growth is increasing more than 3% a year. Some 336,000 new jobs have been added in the past year.

In 2007/08 some 88% of net migration came from people entering Australia on temporary visas, including overseas students, temporary working visas, New Zealanders, tourists and Australian working holidaymakers, McDonald added.

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