Note From the Editor
A recent report has revealed that only 50 percent of international students in Australia secure full-time jobs post-graduation, raising questions on the government’s post-graduate work policies.
Conflict remains a persistent theme in international education this week, with Harvard student groups coming together in a joint statement to attribute the ongoing Hamas attacks on Israel to the Israeli regime. The Harvard administration has disowned the students’ stance. Meanwhile, current Canada-India diplomatic relations continue to cast shadow on the prospects of international students from India.
Head over to MSMReporter.com for more international education news, insights, and thought leadership this week.
A recent Grattan Institute report reveals that only 50 percent of international students in Australia secure full-time jobs post-graduation, with some earning less than AUD 53,300 (USD 34,020.63) annually. Concerns are raised about the government’s post-graduate work policies potentially leaving many graduates working in unrelated jobs. The institute recommends changes that include shorter post-study work visas and an “Exceptionally Talented Graduate” visa to address these challenges and maintain Australia’s appeal to international students.
In a joint statement, more than 30 Harvard University student organizations have attributed the recent Hamas attacks on Israel – and the ongoing conflict – to the Israeli regime. This stance has ignited controversy, with CEOs now urging Harvard to disclose the names of these students, raising concerns about potential implications for their future employment. The initial letter garnered support from 34 Harvard student organizations but faced subsequent withdrawals, including Amnesty International at Harvard and the Harvard Islamic Society. According to Harvard President Claudine Gay, the views expressed in the letter do not represent the university’s official stand on the matter.
The UK government has raised visa fees, affecting both students and skilled workers. The changes, effective from October 4, include a 20 percent increase in family, settlement, and citizenship visas; a 15 percent increase in work and visit visas; and a substantial 35 percent hike in student visa fees. This move follows the July announcement of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to raise fees and health surcharges to support the National Health Service (NHS) and public sector wage increases. The Home Office justifies the hike as necessary to fund public services. Notable increases include £15 ($18.27) for UK tourist visas (under six months) and £127 ($154.73) for UK student visas. Skilled worker visa fees range from £719 ($875.94) to £1,420 ($1,729.91), depending on the sponsorship certificate’s duration, while fees for skilled workers in shortage occupations range from £551 ($671.25) to £1,084 ($1,320.58).
Ireland’s Department of Justice has introduced the Student Pathway, streamlining visa extensions for non-European Economic Area (EEA) students. This four-section process gathers personal, travel, academic, and extension reasons. Touted as efficient and transparent, it requests proof of medical insurance and a €300 (US$316) fee; exclusive to those physically in Ireland, it demands proof of residence. The initiative supposedly aligns with Ireland’s commitment to enhance the immigration system’s integrity and welcome international students.
The National Party, New Zealand’s opposition, has unveiled its manifesto ahead of the 2023 general election. The proposals aim to enhance New Zealand’s appeal to international students by extending work hours from 20 to 24 per week for students and introducing fast-track visa processing for an additional fee. The measures are poised to rejuvenate the struggling international education sector, a significant contributor to the economy before the pandemic. The party believes that supporting international education will boost export revenue, create jobs, and strengthen global connections, ultimately driving economic growth. The election is scheduled for October 14, 2023.
The suspension of visa services amid accusations between governments raises concerns for Indian students at the University of Toronto. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement of an investigation into links between India’s government and an assassination is adding to the uncertainty, with the diplomatic standoff potentially impacting the future enrollment of international students from India. The historical backdrop of the Khalistan separatist movement and the recent assassination of a Canadian citizen complicate matters, with current students expressing worry and experts sounding the alarm on potential implications for future applicants and Canadian universities’ finances.
A recent survey by Nous Group and Navitas highlights that universities in Australia, Canada, and the UK continue to prioritize international student recruitment due to pandemic recovery needs, limited public funding, and rising expenses. Nearly half of university leaders strongly agree that internationalization is a top priority, with an additional 46 percent in agreement. To achieve institutional strategies, leaders are urged to align with limited resources and diverse stakeholder agendas. Many survey respondents anticipate tuition increases for international students in the upcoming years, an expectation stemming from 2020 and 2022 minimal or nonexistent hikes in fees.
The Israel-Hamas conflict has triggered safety concerns in student exchange programs as militants breached the Gaza-Israel border, resulting in over 900 Israeli civilian deaths and 2,600 injuries. US universities operating in Israel are working on evacuation plans with security agencies, while Israeli gap year programs continue cautiously. Harvard University faces internal discord as 34 student organizations attribute recent violence to the Israeli regime, while the university leadership unequivocally condemns the Hamas attack.
As Canada accuses India of involvement in a separatist leader’s killing, Canadian universities reassure their Indian students amid rising tensions. Students contemplate delaying studies, sparking concerns about Canada’s lucrative international education sector, mainly driven by Indian students contributing over $14.6 billion annually. Despite uncertainty, more than 100,000 Indian students prepare for Canadian studies. Universities and colleges reach out to affirm their commitment to Indian partnerships. Indian families fret, with a quarter in Punjab having students in Canada. Diplomatic tensions persist, with Canada urged to withdraw diplomats.
UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman is set to tighten immigration rules by raising the salary threshold for skilled migrant workers to enter the country. Currently, skilled workers are eligible for visas if their job pays £26,200 ($31,924.88), 20 percent below the median average of £33,280 ($40,551.91). Braverman aims to address concerns over high net migration levels and tighten rules for dependents of unskilled workers. Former Home Secretary Priti Patel introduced the points-based immigration system in 2020, citing equal treatment of European Union and non-EU nationals. However, net migration hit a record high of 606,000 last year, driven by arrivals from outside the EU, students, and refugees. Braverman also recently restricted international students from bringing family members, allowing only a limited number of postgraduate research students to do so. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly will address illegal migration at an upcoming Albania summit.
Amid a diplomatic dispute between India and Canada, changes to Canada’s student visa policy have raised concerns among Indian students. In the past five years, Canada has made significant alterations to its visa policies, with most study permits now processed within 60 days. The 2018 introduction of the Student Direct Stream (SDS) program streamlined the application process for select countries, including India. Despite the ongoing tensions, aspiring Indian international students are advised to stay updated on Canadian immigration policies and consider alternative plans if necessary. Canada continues to be a promising destination for quality education, emphasizing diversity and inclusivity, and thus may entail rigorous planning for the August 2024 semester, depending on the situation’s progression.
In Surrey, British Columbia, 47 Indian international students have tragically succumbed to drug overdoses and suicides within two years, with an estimated 80 percent due to overdoses. Financial stress, driven by exorbitant tuition fees and sub-minimum wage jobs, are believed to have exacerbated mental health issues among students. The goal for many of these foreign students is permanent residency, allegedly driven by job scarcity and corruption in India. However, exploitation and ill-equipped students have also fueled the crisis. Jobanjeet Kaur Malhi, an international student, advises exploring opportunities at home rather than migrating, with industry insiders calling for urgent support and reforms to safeguard international students in Canada.
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MSM Reporter is collated by a globally spread team of MSM and is published every Thursday.