Australia has traditionally been among the top study abroad destinations for students in India. With a multitude of bright young minds moving to Australia in pursuit of quality higher education as well as employment opportunities, its major cities witnessed a population boom over the years. Consequently, the Australian Government recently introduced policies aimed at mobilizing both domestic and international students to study at universities in regional – non-city – areas.
Incentivizing the regional expansion: Policy changes at a glance
The new rules effectively revised the definition of “regional areas” in the country. Following their implementation at the end of 2019, Regional Australia now includes all of the country with the exception of three areas that are recognized as Major Cities. These include Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne.
This move serves two purposes. On the one hand, it seeks to depressurize the major cities by encouraging people to migrate to less populated regional areas. At the same time, the expanding talent base in these areas can then be tapped to accelerate regional development.
It is an obvious fact that cities – epicenters of innovation and progress – provide a superior range of access, opportunities, and options. So, how does asking students to shift to regions that are comparatively less equipped with facilities and amenities be to their advantage?
While cities indeed represent a treasure trove of lucrative opportunities, the same also causes urban hubs to become overcrowded. This naturally results in the competition for said opportunities – be it educational or employment – to rise in intensity. By encouraging migration to Regional Australia, the Federal Government is providing students and migrants with the opportunity to avail more or less equivalent – if not superior – perks minus the stiff competition.
But that’s not the end of it.
Top benefits that students stand to avail under the new policies
- Favorable post-study work visa terms
As compared to those studying in cities, international students willing to study at regional universities stand to avail one extra year on their post-study work visa, as per the revised regulations. In other words, the new policy extends the tenure of international students in Regional Australia by an additional twelve months in which to search for jobs and work full-time after completing their studies.
- Extra benefits in points system for PR
New rules also benefit in extra benefits in points system which make them eligible for Permanent Residency to international students who choose to study at regional universities. These points are crucial for individuals seeking to apply for permanent residence in the country. Hence, this benefit is among the main incentives that encourage immigrant students to move to regional towns.
- Special tertiary scholarships
Under the new policy, nearly 1,000 scholarships will be granted annually for the next four years to both domestic and international students applying for regional universities after November 2019. These special destinationsAustraliascholarships, each worth USD 15,000, will be offered to students pursuing programs from Certificate IV level to Doctoral degrees. Apart from this, many regional universities also offer a range of scholarships to attract international students.
Besides these advantages, students can also access the following concomitant benefits should they choose to live in towns:
- Reasonable cost of living:It is a universally acknowledged truth that lifestyle expenses in cities are much more as compared to those in regional areas. This alone serves as a major plus point for international students who seek the ideal combination of cost-efficient living and excellent education.
- Personalized learning:It is only natural that overcrowded cities will have overcrowded universities. Regional universities, therefore, offer the unique advantage of small class sizes that can facilitate superior teacher-student interaction for students who prefer personalized education and engagement.
- A closer brush with the Australian culture:Australia is as much a hub of innovation as it is a cultural hotspot. While cities are multicultural in nature, students can experience cultures and traditions unique to Australia in the regional towns. On top of this, Regional Australia boasts an exquisite set of landscapes and wildlife, and immigrant students can get a sense of the rawness of the Australian wilderness only in regional areas.
Finally, it may also happen that a specialization that a student seeks to pursue is only available at universities in regional areas. Marine courses are available in Tasmania are among such courses. These coincidences notwithstanding, the new policies rolled by the Australian Government further reinforce the country’s position as a top international hub for students and job seekers alike.
Inputs from Rohit Sethi, Director, ESS Global-Study Abroad Consultant