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Australia: Incentives to international students in regional areas

Posted on November 5, 2019
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Incentives to International Students

According to the updated version of Planning for Australia’s Population Future, released on September 23, 2019 by the Australian government, a cornerstone of Australia’s vision for the future involves “better connecting regional Australia with opportunities for growth”.

In a bid to make regional areas more attractive to overseas students, the Australian Government has announced various changes to its immigration program. As part of this initiative, extra options will be granted to those international students that are graduating from regional universities.

Taken together, these changes are expected to help in getting the “right skills into the right regions” for supporting regional businesses, thereby ensuring that local communities thrive in their turn.

International students attending regional campuses will now be eligible for an additional 2 years on their existing 2-years’ post-study work visas.

This latest announcement replaces the 1 extra year that was offered in March 2019 to overseas students in most of the regional areas that successfully completed a full-time bachelor’s or master’s course.

The Morrison Government, in keeping with its commitment to regional Australia, is making such changes in the migration system of Australia that encourage skilled migrants to move to smaller cities and regions for the purposes of work overseas and migrate overseas.

According the Dan Tehan, the Minister for Education, while international education made about $35 billion contribution to the economy in the last year, still “just three per cent of the 690,000 international students were enrolled in regional Australia”.

Attracting more students – international as well as Australian – to study in the regional areas of Australia is a part of the Australian government’s focus on the promotion of higher education regionally.

What are the new migration definitions in Australia?

Definition  Location 
Major Cities Sydney
Cities and major regional centres Hobart
Wollongong/Illawarra Geelong
Newcastle/Lake Macquarie
Gold Coast
Sunshine Coast Canberra
Regional centres and other regional areas All other locations (except the ones above-mentioned)

From 2021, international students in Australia can expect the following –

  • Those studying at all locations outside Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne to be offered an extension on the current 2-years’ post-study work visa that is applicable to bachelor and masters graduates.
  • 1 additional year will be offered to those in Adelaide, the Gold Coast, Perth, Wollongong/Illawarra Geelong, Newcastle/Lake Macquarie, Hobart, Canberra, the Sunshine Coast.
  • 2 extra years will be offered to those studying in all other regional areas.

An international student holding an extended post-study work visa will have to continue living in the regional areas.

Additionally, the Australian Government will also be providing 4,720 scholarships over a span of 4 years to students studying at a regional campus of a university or provider of vocational education and training.

These scholarships will be available to both the international students as well as the domestic students in Australia.

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