How ECTA Protects Indian Dreams in Australia's Changing Migration Landscape
For decades, Australia has shimmered as a beacon for Indian students seeking world-class education and a vibrant multicultural experience. The country has highly-rated prestigious universities that offer a wide spectrum of programs and modern research opportunities. Australian education standards coupled with beautiful landscapes, warm social environments, and opportunities for post-work is just what makes Indians choose Australia as their ideal country to be educated in.
The Shifting Sands of Australia's Migration Policy
On 11th December, the Australian Government announced its new migration strategy, wherein it focused on the Sustainable level of migrants which primarily includes top global talent increasing the bar for aspiring international students.
To achieve this the Australian government aims to:
Targeted Skill Migration: Immigration is no longer unrestricted or haphazard. Currently, Australia aggressively attracts specialists whose skills are in demand in line with its economy. These therefore should be targeted at specified occupations or the relevant qualifications that address labor shortage issues facing various sectors.
Strengthened Scrutiny: Expect a thorough vetting process. Qualifications will be verified before visa approval while also checking on the genuineness of the applicant’s intention. This strict approach helps to eliminate fraudulent applications, ensuring that only eligible people enter the country’s territory.
Proficiency, Not Proficiency Papers: This will demand mastery of English language proficiency. This will provide stringent tests and high standards so that they can communicate well and integrate appropriately into Australian society. This also cuts out the intermediaries who usually take advantage of gaps in processes while overstating language competencies in an ethically questionable manner.
New changes: The aftermath of the Ban on Concurrent studies
Earlier this year the Australian government also put an end to subsequent concurrent studies which allowed students to take admissions in cheaper vocational courses in addition to their core subjects which was later deemed to be a loophole in the Visa rules wherein the students enroll into cheaper courses as soon as they arrive into the country. The changes came for students for their first 6 months of core study subjects after that they are allowed to enroll in such courses.
What do the estimates show about the concurrent studies in Australia?
Growing trend: Before the ban, concurrent enrollment was on the rise, with estimates suggesting around 17,000 students enrolled in two courses simultaneously in the first half of 2023, compared to 10,500 for the same period in 2019 and 2022 combined.
Sectoral differences: Universities generally had lower concurrent enrollment rates compared to vocational colleges and private providers.
Impact of the ban: The new policy has undoubtedly reduced the number of students enrolled in concurrent courses, though the exact figures remain unclear.
Impact on Indian students
There are many modifications of Australia’s new migration policy but some are under ECTA (Economic Cooperation on Trade Agreement) which is signed between Australia and India. Here's a breakdown:
Changes unlikely to affect ECTA:
Temporary graduate visas: Nevertheless, Indian students completing their studies in Australia are also entitled to the same period of temporary graduate visas as that in the past i.e. two years for the bachelor's degree, three years for the master's degree and four years for the doctoral degree.
Spouses and dependents: It is anticipated that entry for partners and dependants who hold ECTA-compliant visas will remain unchanged with some exceptions on requirements to meet.
General skilled migration (GSM) program: Not all amendments to the GSM system may affect the eligibility of an ECTA professional. However, the latest amendments have emphasized professions that are in great need of skilled labor, as well as an employment-driven point-scoring system. Nevertheless, ECTA may also serve as an advantage for some Indian professionals in some selected areas.
Changes that might impact ECTA:
Focus on skills and qualifications: This new policy emphasizes what Australians need of their workforce in terms of the skills and qualifications required. Though ECTA has its advantages, Indian professionals might be required to still prove that they possess the requisite standards for admission.
Changes to priority occupations: Some professions can be affected by this especially as the changes in priority occupations under the GMS Program can lead to reviewing the lists and hence affect the ease of migration under the ECTA.
In turn, the ECTA offers many benefits of obtaining temporary or permanent citizenship for Indians visiting Australia. Nevertheless, it’s vital for one to keep abreast of how migration is changing and to qualify under both ECTA and Australia’s new migration rules.