Alla Kisika contemplates her future after realizing she cannot apply for her 485 Graduate Visa
Disaster Looms for thousands of international business students
Tanaya Das Reports
For decades Australia has been seen as a multi-cultural country welcoming foreigners with open arms and for being extremely tolerant of different ethnic backgrounds.
The fact that the various city councils willingly spend increasing amounts for News year's eve fireworks, Chinese New year festivities and the GLBTQ Mardi Gras celebrations points to the fact that modern Australia is a place even the most marginalized can hope to call home.
Beginning in the late 1990s, the government made it easier for foreign students to apply for immigrant visas while still in Australia after graduation. According to a new report for the federal government Australia's export education industry can grow by 30 per cent to 520,000 international students, spending $19 billion to study at Australian universities by the end of the decade.
Increasingly education in Australia is being viewed as a stepping-stone to subsequent residency, which is why changes in the migration policy have far reaching effects in the lives of the students who choose Australia to pursue their studies.
The recent proposed changes to the Skilled - Graduate (Temporary) Visa (Subclass 485) by dividing into two distinct streams, the Post Study Work Stream (PSWS) and the Graduate Work Stream (GWS), is having a wide range of reactions from the international student community.
The new PSWS of the 485 visa is going to be the preferred option for it will not require students to have a skills assessment and makes it easier for them to stay in Australia after completing certain courses. A large number of international students will welcome the change but there is going to be a massive number of students who will be disadvantaged by this new policy because it is available only to students who held or had applied for their student visa after the 5th November 2011.
If you held a student visa or applied for one before the 5th November 2011 then you can only choose an occupation from Schedule 1 of the CSOL. This list leaves out many occupations, particularly those related to business such as marketing and management.
Speaking to Alla Kisika, a Post graduate student has shed light on exactly how unfairly treated international students not eligible for the new PSWS or the GSW are feeling. Alla, a vivacious and ambitious girl in her late twenties from Riga, Latvia has recently finished her Master's degree in Business, majoring in marketing.
She was studying for a degree in marketing and finance in Latvia before she joined an international furniture marketing company as a project manager. After losing her job to the far reaching effects of the GFC, she decided to move to Sydney to pursue a diploma in marketing management at a friend's suggestion. She says "I had the choice to study in the UK, spend € 4,000 a year and work full-time but I chose to come to Australia and spend $50,000 so far on my studies in spite of being allowed to work only 20 hours/ week on a student visa because I preferred the life I thought Australia would offer someone like me".
She speaks flawless Russian, Latvian, English is a bit rusty with her French, is considering learning Mandarin and states "I was planning to work for a year to gain further professional experience after my degree, then work for myself and give back to the society in anyway that I can". On asked why choose Australia, she answered succinctly "The people are so warm, the weather is perfect, its a beautiful place, the beaches are amazing and above all I feel safe at night, as a single woman I don't feel afraid or threatened".
She can't understand why students who paid more to study here and are going to be good additions to the society are being left with no possibility to continue to live and work in Australia. "I thought in Australia I would have equal opportunities like anyone else but I discovered yesterday that although its going to be easier for foreign students to live and work in Australia from now on, I am excluded because I applied for and was granted my student visa before a certain date, where is the fairness in that?"
Speaking to her one senses the quiet determination that made her pursue and finish an online interior design course along with Uni even though she states she found it hard initially to write university level essays in English. She says "I braved loneliness, being far away from my family and friends, worked jobs well under my skills set just to get a brand new start in a country I chose to make home only to discover that in spite of everything I went through, I might have to leave in a month and a half".
Knowing that there is a huge number of students facing the same situation as Alla, it gets easier to understand the desperation the international student community are feeling right now.
The author of this story Tanaya Das is a former international student who did her post graduate studies in journalism from UTS. She has written many stories in the past for Immigration News covering the collapse of some of Australia's notorious business colleges. She has also worked as a researcher for programs aired on ABC and SBS and as an Online content Editor for Thomson Reuters.