Tag: overseas students

India presses for easing travel restrictions for international students

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Photo- India’s Minister of External Affairs Dr.S.Jaishankar & Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne. Source- @DrSJaishankar

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 12 September 2021: The issue of thousands of stranded Indian students enrolled in Australian universities and institutions because of Covid-19 international restrictions raised its head at the 2+ 2 talks between the foreign and defence Ministers talks in New Delhi. India pushed for their early return to Australia, which means easing travel restrictions amid the continuing pandemic waves in NSW and Victoria.

The lockout and other restrictions in NSW and Victoria being eased in itself are unlikely to happen till the vaccination percentage reaches 70 and 80 percent, as announced by the Australian PM Scott Morrison. Vaccinations are moving fast but when this percentage goal is achieved remains to be seen. The India High Commissioner Mr. Manpreet Vohra claimed in The Guardian interview that the pandemic situation in India is ‘vastly improved’. What is Australia’s assessment is not known?

India’s External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar raised the issue at the recently held 2+2 talks. The number of such students is around 17,000.

During press interaction, Dr. S. Jaishankar took up the issue with Minister Payne. Indian Express quotes him saying, ” “I specifically took up with Minister Payne the problems faced by Indian students in Australia and those wishing to go to Australia as well as the Indian origin community that is resident there.

The foreign minister stated that the government is considering the problems faced by students wishing to study abroad on a “very high priority” and is taking it up “very vigorously with our foreign partners”, including countries like US and Canada.

I think their frustrations, their feelings are completely understandable. Many of them would like to be at the institutions that they are already studying or want to study. So we discussed it in some detail today. Minister Payne shared with me what is Australia’s thinking about when students will be able to come,” Jaishankar said.”

In her response, the Australian Minister emphasized the vaccination drive taking place in the country in phases. Indian and other international students, she said, would return during phase three (phase two being partial reopening), and all overseas travel could open up in the last phase four.

A month back the India High Commissioner in Australia Mr. Manpreet Vohra had told Guardian Australia in an interview that “extended travel restrictions could cause frustration, uncertainty, and anxiety among thousands of students who have been unable to travel to Australia to undertake their courses, adding that online education was “not what they signed up for”.

“They signed up for education here in your universities, they continue to pay a substantial amount of tuition fees. They are getting online education, of course, but that really is not what they signed up for,” he said.

In the media statement issued at the end of 2+ 2 talks by Dr. S. Jaishankar says, ” I also specifically took up with Minister Payne the problems faced by Indian students in Australia and those wishing to go to Australia as well as the Indian origin community that is resident there. I urged that the difficulties faced by the students due to travel restrictions be sympathetically addressed as soon as possible.”

India forcefully pressing for the early return of Indian overseas students to Australia and receiving a guarded answer from Australia, portrays the challenging times the world is passing through. When will these students come back remains a moot question?

Vice Chancellors welcome Victoria’s $45 million support package for international students

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 30 April 2020: Different sections of the university sector and the wider community has welcomed the announcement by the Victorian Government to establish a $45 million support package for international students facing hardship due to COVID-19.

Victoria now joins the Australian Capital Territory, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australian, Tasmanian and Western Australian governments in assisting international students who, like their Australian peers, have lost casual or part-time jobs as a result of the global pandemic.

Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said almost all states and territories, together with every Australian university, now offer support for international students.

“Many international students now find themselves in extremely difficult circumstances due to the economic impact of COVID-19. Unlike their Australian classmates, there will be those who won’t have family or local support networks to fall back on,” Ms. Jackson said.

“Assistance from all levels of government adding to that from our universities is vital at this time of growing need.”

“University support initiatives now include providing emergency grants, scholarships, accommodation, food, and low cost or free IT equipment.”

Ms. Jackson welcomed the Victorian support package and the co-contribution from the state’s universities.

“Universities Australia welcomes the Victorian Government’s announcement to work with universities to assist the more than 100,000 higher education international students in the state who are facing hardship after losing their part-time jobs,” she said.

“International education is Australia’s fourth-largest export. In Victoria, universities contributed $7.5 billion in export income in 2018-19, supporting thousands of local jobs.”

Mr. Sharif As- Saber, Foundation Director, Master of International Business Program at RMIT University says, “The emergency relief fund for international students will help struggling international students during this unprecedented lockdown period. The Vic government website has created a link where students can register their interests. However, it is not clear how long will it take to receive the money.

It would be great if the government expedite the process. Although this will not be enough to support struggling international students during this unfortunate and uncertain situation, it will, at least, provide the students with some mental boost and sigh of relief.

Especially after the Prime Minister’s reckless ‘time to go home’ comment in early April, international students have received this positive news from the Victorian government. Regardless of the amount of money in the offer, this is heartening! I must thank and congratulate the Victorian Government for coming up with this innovative initiative!”

Australia asks international students to ‘rely on family support, part-time work where available and their own savings to sustain themselves in Australia’

By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 4 Apri 2020: Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, Australia wants its 565,000 international students to fend for themselves. The government says in a press statement, “As part of their visa application, international students have had to demonstrate that they can support themselves completely in their first year.” What status international students have after the first year is not known. Plus, overseas students face the grim reality of so many small businesses closed wiping out casual jobs.

In his media conference on 3 April, PM Scott Morrison said, ” “They’re obviously not held here compulsorily. If they’re not in a position to support themselves, then there is an alternative for them to return to their home countries.”

The PM said it was “lovely to have visitors to Australia in good times”. But now they should “make your way home” and “ensure that you can receive the supports that are available…in your home countries.

“At this time, Australia must focus on its citizens. Our focus and our priority is on supporting Australians and Australian residents with the economic supports that are available.”

The rather grim news is reinforced from a media statement from the office of The Hon Alan Tudge MP, Minister For Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services, and Multicultural Affairs who says in a media statement emailed on the morning of 4 April 2020:

“All students who come to Australia…have to give a warranty that they are able to support themselves for the first 12 months of their study. That is not an unreasonable expectation of the government, that students would be able to fulfill the commitment that they gave.

International students

There are 565,000 international students in Australia, mainly studying in the higher
education or vocational education sector. They are an important contributor to our tertiary
sector and economy, supporting 240,000 Australian jobs.

Students are encouraged to rely on family support, part-time work where available and their
own savings to sustain themselves in Australia. As part of their visa application,
international students have had to demonstrate that they can support themselves
completely in their first year.

Students who have been here longer than 12 months who find themselves in financial
hardship will be able to access their Australian superannuation.

The Government will undertake further engagement with the international education sector
who already provides some financial support for international students facing hardship. For
example, we understand there are some education providers that are providing fee
discounts to international students.

The Government will also be flexible in cases where Coronavirus has prevented
international students meeting their visa conditions (such as not being able to attend classes).

International students are able to work up to 40 hours per fortnight.
International students working in aged care and as nurses have had these hours extended to
support these critical sectors.

International students working in the major supermarkets had also had these hours
extended to help get stock on shelves during the high demand. From 1 May, their hours will
return to the maximum 40 hours a fortnight as more Australians are being recruited into these roles.”

There are at present 2.17 million people on temporary visas in Australia. This includes 8,000 skilled medical professionals, 203,000 international visitors, 565,000 international students, 672,000 New Zealanders on subclass 444 visas, 118,000 on Working Holiday Visas which have work rights and another 185,000 other temporary visa holders.