Route To Success

Route To Success

Studying in Australia can be a life-changing experience and with a student visa you will be entitled to earn money part-time too

With all of the recent changes to the General Skilled Migration program in Australia in recent months, the notion of studying or training in Australia has intensified.

According to the latest figures, more than 2,800 people from the UK have chosen to go back to college or university in Australia this year. This is almost 20 per cent up on 2007 figures.

More than half of the new students were mature students enrolling in postgraduate courses at universities or trade training programs in the vocational education sector.

Studying and improving your opportunities for a resurgent labour market is one well tested solution to beating the recession, whether it is in Australia or anywhere else.

There is a lot to be said for obtaining Australian qualifications. The education system is very highly developed and compares very favourably with the UK.

Australian qualification holders are in demand all over the world. So when the tide does turn, your employability prospects will be greatly improved. The cachet of an international qualification not only impresses employers but is definitive proof that you are capable of succeeding outside your home environment.

It is really important to stress, though, that an Australian degree or trade certificate does not bring with it any guarantee of permanent residency. Much will depend on the state of play of the local and finish your study or training. In the makes studying last few weeks, several government outside a breeze sponsored reviews into aspects of international education provision in Australia sought to decouple the perception that studying in Australia will automatically lead to permanent residency.

The Department of Immigration and Citzenship’s (DIAC) website is explicit. It said: “Students should not make educational choices solely on the basis of hoping to achieve a particular migration outcome, as the GSM program will continue to change and adapt to Australia’s economic needs.”

The global financial crisis provoked some of the major changes to the migration rules earlier in the year, including the introduction of the Critical Skills List in March and the ministerial directive in September to prioritise certain GSM applications.

The fact that the economic indicators in Australia are all heading north again and the spectre of high unemployment has receded, does not mean that current policies will be revisited any time soon. It is important, therefore, that you choose a course in which you have a genuine interest and that will help to advance your career.

VISA RULES

On a student visa you will have an opportunity to live and study in Australia for the duration of your course. Under current regulations you may also be eligible, if your study program is for two years or longer, to apply for a Graduate Visa that will enable you to work fulltime in your chosen profession.

You may be in a position then to consider an application for permanent residency but that will depend on the migration rules in place at the time of your application. Nobody can predict what they might look like in six months time never mind three years.

As a student you will be able to work for 20 hours a week while your course is in session and full time during the vacation. Your partner will be able to work part time for the duration.

Earnings will vary, naturally, but you should be able to make a big dent in your living expenses. You will also get to know the country and the people an awful lot better. So should you decide to apply for permanent residency, and meet the criteria at the time of application, you have up-to-date qualifications and experience. You might even have got to know some employers interested in sponsoring you.

STUDENT VISA: THE LOWDOWN

  • Student Visa Cost: £315
  • Validity: Duration of your course
  • Conditions: You will be able to work up to 20 hours a week while your course is in session. During your vacations, you can work fulltime. You are entitled to multiple entry to Australia for the duration of the visa.

As with any strategy there are a lot of considerations you will have to take into account. It is important, therefore, that you get the best possible advice before making any commitment.

Study programs in Australia can be expensive – all the more so given the current exchange rate. Typically, you will need to allow upwards of £8,500 for annual tuition fees and a further £10,000 (for an individual) to cover modest living costs. This can be off set by earnings in Australia – how much will depend on you and the availability of casual and seasonal work, wherever you choose to locate. It is a big investment and is not for the faint hearted, however, it is one that has paid off for many thousands over the years.

There are certainly a lot of choices and a huge array courses, from trade qualifications to postgraduate degrees, available in private and public institutions in every state of Australia. You can start by having a look at the Australian government website at www.studyinaustralia.gov.au.

If you need help in making a decision and working through the complexities, there are a number of specialist agencies in the UK and Ireland who can help you with your decision making and steer you in the right direction.

MAKE IT HAPPEN

Organisations, like Study Options in London, work with a number of Australian colleges and universities and provide free advice and support to prospective students about their educational objectives. It is also important, though, that you spend time with a registered Australian migration agent about your circumstances. They will be on top of the current legislation and in a position to provide you with frank, accurate and honest advice about your longer term prospects.

Unlike GSM visas, student visas are processed very quickly if you are a current British or Irish passport holder. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, you can expect to get your visa within 10 days of lodging a valid application. The process is straight forward. You will need to:

  • Apply for your chosen course directly or via an accredited agent. Most agents will not charge you a fee for this service.
  • Once you have been off ered a place you will normally be expected to pay the first semester fees. This is typically 50 per cent of the annual fee.
  • On receipt of your fees you will receive a ‘Confirmation of Enrolment’. This is the document you will need to provide to the Australian High Commission to prove that you have been accepted as a genuine student and will trigger the visa process.
  • Complete the student visa application online or in person and submit it with your visa fee.

Once you have your visa you can make your plans to travel. You should arrive in the country at least two weeks before your course starts to acclimatise. You will need the time to get your bearings.

For those people starting in February it can be a big shock to move from a cold winter to an Australian summer. If study in Australia is a possibility, you will find that it is a hugely transformative experience. Just ask anybody who has done it.

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