Immigration Minister Chris Evans has welcomed the final report of the Baird Review on the legislation governing international education. The Baird Report by Bruce Baird was commissioned by the Australian Department for Education to report on the legislation that governs international education in Australia.
Mr Evans says that he is pleased with the support in the Baird Report for the Australian immigration changes announced on 8 February 2010. He goes on to say that the immigration changes mean the removal of incentives for students to apply for course in the hope of later gaining Australian permanent residence. However, the report also said that there should be tougher national accreditation and that there should be greater protection for foreign students.
The Immigration Minister went on to refer again to the changes such as the ending of the Migration occupations in demand list which is to be replaced mid-year by a new targeted skilled occupation list to be developed by an independent body Skills Australia. He went on to say that the new skilled occupations list will be focused on "high value skills" such as the professions and trades in areas such as healthcare, engineering and mining which it is hoped will deal with Australia's future skills needs. Forecasting future skills needs is not easily done. It remains to be seen how accurate the forecasts will be.
In a number of cases sponsorship may be the way forward. Students currently on a course not on the new skilled occupation list will have until the end of 2012 to apply for a temporary skilled graduate visa for up to 18 months to gain Australian work experience and find an Australian employer to sponsor them. It may also be possible to come under an Australian State sponsorship scheme.
International students in Australia on a vocational, higher education or postgraduate student visa will still be able to apply for permanent residence if their occupation is on the new skilled occupations list.
The Immigration Minister then stresses that the student visa is to study in Australia. It does not give someone the right to permanent residence. He also said that Australia still welcomes international students who would then have an opportunity to find an Australian employer to sponsor them. Therefore, in practice studying in Australia may lead to greater immigration opportunities in Australia.
The Baird Report by Bruce Baird a former Australian Member of Parliament raised concerns about the treatment of overseas students in Australia. It was felt that some schools were taking advantage of international students. Mr Baird also had the following comments to make about attacks on Indian students in Australia:
"The recent attacks, predominantly on young Indian students, have saddened me as an Australian. I have a strong interest in Australia's successful multicultural ethos through my involvement in refugee issues, and it is extremely disappointment to see Australia's reputation as a safe and tolerant country damaged. I condemn these acts of violence."
Mr Baird felt that international students should have somewhere safe to go if they were facing problems, and also felt that new legislation should be introduced to protect international students.