Note From the Editor
Australia is cracking down on unlawful and unethical practices among international education providers in the country, with measures comprising a ban on agent commissions for student transfers.
Meanwhile, it’s mostly business as usual for Canada in visa processing for Indian nationals, including international students, amid diplomatic tensions. New Zealand’s National Party has unveiled plans to renew the intl ed sector that suffered losses post-pandemic, while the US has rolled out a plan to include Israel in its Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
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Australia has banned commissions for onshore student transfers between providers to enhance the integrity of its international education sector. The move aims to eliminate financial incentives for agents and institutions to induce students to switch institutions. Regulations surrounding school ownership are being tightened to prevent conflicts of interest. These actions follow the Nixon Review, which highlighted integrity issues in the sector. Additionally, amendments to the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS Act) will strengthen provider registration requirements and curtail cross-ownership between educational entities and agents. These measures prioritize the quality of education over financial gains and protect students from exploitation. These measures, lauded by groups like Universities Australia, appear to address the quality of education and prioritize it over financial gains from student exploitation.
Despite diplomatic disputes with India, Canada commits to processing visa applications from Indian nationals without interruption. BLS International’s suspension of visa services for Canadian nationals has not affected Indian applicants. Processing times for Indian visa seekers also remain consistent, with Canada aiming to uphold its service standards. Furthermore, Canada continues to attract Indian students, with 40 percent of international students in 2022 hailing from India. This highlights the enduring connections between the two nations, as India remains the largest source country for immigration to Canada, aligning with Canada’s ambitious immigration targets for the coming years.
United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is contemplating a “British baccalaureate” reform for post-16 education. Inspired by the International Baccalaureate, it would require students to study a broader range of subjects, including math and English until age 18. While details remain undisclosed, it could encompass academic or vocational programs, with the implementation’s scope largely dependent on funding and may take years. Student opinions vary: some support the idea for its broader curriculum, while others prefer the flexibility of the current system. Further details may be revealed at the Conservative Party conference.
New Zealand’s National Party has unveiled a comprehensive plan to revive the international education sector, a vital contributor to the economy before the pandemic but now has diminished to $800 million value. The strategy includes expedited visa processing, extended student working hours, and diversified recruitment efforts. Erica Stanford criticized the government’s lack of action in attracting international students, while National’s plan aligns with broader economic goals, addressing the cost-of-living crisis and more. As of July, 52,248 individuals held student visas in New Zealand, underscoring the sector’s importance for the nation’s prosperity.
Amid the India-Canada political standoff, Piyush Kumar, regional director of South Asia and Mauritius at IDP Education, reassures Indian students in Canada and prospective enrollees and states that there is no immediate cause for concern. Canada’s affordability and popularity among Indian students remain mostly consistent, with over 225,000 study permits issued in 2022. Kumar advises vigilance, not excessive caution, and assures that current students’ academic pursuits are uninterrupted, with no reported delays in student visa issuance. Prospective students can proceed with plans, especially for the upcoming spring intake, while registering on madad.gov.in for Indian government support.
The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced its intention to include Israel in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), permitting Israeli citizens to visit the US for up to 90 days for tourism or business without a B-1/B-2 visa stamp. The update to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is expected by November 30, 2023. This decision reciprocates Israel’s recent visa-free access for US citizens for short-term visits since July. The VWP simplifies travel, requiring citizenship from a participating country, valid ESTA authorization, and an e-passport compliant with international security standards. Longer stays or other purposes will still necessitate traditional visa stamps for Israeli nationals.
China’s state security police is accused of harassing Chinese student activist Zhang Jinrui in Washington DC due to his pro-democracy activism. Zhang’s family in China was interrogated, and they were told to ensure he aligns with the Chinese Communist Party’s views. The incident highlights concerns about Beijing’s “long-arm” law enforcement targeting overseas activists and students. Chinese Students and Scholars Associations (CSSAs) on US campuses have also been accused of stifling dissent. Experts call for US universities to better support international students, educate them about their rights, and establish mechanisms to report harassment. Zhang, however, remains committed to advocating for a better political system.
A recent Victoria coronial inquest has found that international students are not accessing vital mental health support, based on the tragic suicides of five students in 2020. Despite attending different institutions and having diverse backgrounds, these students had little engagement with mental health services, often keeping their struggles hidden. While the investigation didn’t fault university services, it highlighted the challenge of encouraging international students to seek help. The findings followed a 2021 report revealing 47 international student suicides in the past decade. The coroner called for reform, suggesting the development of resources and reviews to support the well-being of international students.
Thirty-two US colleges and universities are set to participate in the 7th EducationUSA University Fair at the Shangri-La Plaza in Manila on October 10. The event, organized by the US Embassy in the Philippines and the Philippine-American Educational Foundation, offers crucial information for Filipinos interested in United States higher education. Attendees can learn about admissions processes, explore academic programs, and receive insights from scholarship organizations. On the other hand, US Embassy consular officers will provide guidance on student visa applications. This initiative strengthens educational ties and showcases opportunities for Filipinos to pursue higher education in the leading international education destination.
Canada’s international student population is on a steep rise, with projections indicating 1.4 million applications by 2027, according to internal documents from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). In the first half of 2023, over 280,000 new study permits were issued, a 77-percent increase compared to 2022. This pace suggests that 2023 may set a new record with 600,000 permits issued. Traditional study destinations like Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec are facing competition from provinces with lower costs of living. The number of students from countries like Nigeria and Nepal is surging, making 2023 a potentially record-breaking year for international students in Canada.
Nova Scotia has expanded its Provincial Nominee Program to include paramedics and pharmacy technicians, addressing labor shortages. International graduates with skills matching specific job categories can now immigrate under this initiative. The expansion aims to retain talent, enrich communities, and address critical labor needs. Healthcare industry organizations have welcomed the move, given the high demand for healthcare professionals across Canada. Statistics Canada reports a rise in healthcare job vacancies, emphasizing the importance of attracting international graduates to fill these roles and help meet the province’s healthcare obligations.
Iran’s female brain drain is surging and is being attributed to a crackdown on women’s rights. While 60 percent of students are women, only 15 percent find employment, fueled by high unemployment and repression. Sociologist Mehrdad Darvishpour notes that a lack of hope and prospects drives emigration, weakening society’s push for democracy. Recent legislation imposes harsh penalties for not conforming to clothing regulations. Women now see emigration as an obligation, with many forced to leave for freedom. This crisis challenges Iran’s government to retain its educated female population amid increasing pressure to escape repressive conditions.
Pacific Lutheran University, situated on the traditional lands of the Nisqually, Puyallup, Squaxin Island, and Steilacoom peoples, respectfully acknowledges and honors the traditional caretakers of this land. PLU, a small private institution, is deeply committed to well-being, opportunity, and justice, rooted in its Lutheran heritage. This commitment permeates the university’s community, fostering an inclusive environment where learners’ voices are respected. Students at PLU are encouraged to challenge conventions, seeking new connections in pursuit of truth, and extending impact locally and globally. Recognizing the strength of unity, PLU is a community of seekers, pioneers, and reformers, where students’ ambitions evolve into purpose, skills become tools, and care transforms into a potent force for a brighter future.
Nipissing University offers a Post-Baccalaureate Diploma in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Applications. Graduation entails a minimum overall average of 60 percent across 48 credits. Established in 1992, Nipissing University is dedicated to student success, accessibility, and community impact. It prioritizes inclusivity by welcoming first-generation students, those with disabilities, and Indigenous learners.
MSM Reporter is collated by a globally spread team of MSM and is published every Thursday.