New regulations on part-time jobs and the visa for post-study work make Australia a country where a student can gain enormous experience.
“Australia has a great potential for students to explore and grow. Compared to other developing nations, the quality of education is comparable with that in any developed country. It is structured and organised by the government,” says Mallik Sundharam, Managing Director, India, ELS educational services. Recently the organisation ran an Australia week when they counselled students who wished to study in the country.
Australia is fast emerging as the third choice for study abroad, after the U.S. and the U.K. Mr. Sundharam adds, in the context of large numbers of students approaching them for counsel to study in Australia, “We do see a large potential from particularly south India. Especially with recent changes on post-study work opportunities which may give the students a chance to apply what they have learnt, and gain confidence.”
The post-study work visa was introduced in November 2012 and is different from the part-time work permit. This is given to students who have completed three or four years of bachelor’s, two years of master’s or four years of Ph.D. Once they complete the degree, they can apply for a visa which will allow them to work for two years.
The part-time work permit is different. Students are given an opportunity to work as soon as they land and register with the university. They do not need to apply for another visa to work part-time. They can work for 40 hours every fortnight and 80 hours every month, inside or outside the campus. Students are paid on an hourly basis. There is a government regulatory body that regulates the number of hours the student works.
Living in Australia is very similar to other destinations, but there are certain advantages, Part-time work opportunities, for instance, are not available in many countries. “It also depends on which city you are looking at. You have Melbourne or Sydney, where the expense is considerably higher than cities like Adelaide or Perth. On average, the student would be spending anywhere between $1,200 and $1,400 (Australian) a month, for accommodation and living expenses,” says Arun K Prabhu, student counsellor for Australia at ELS Educational Services.
“Students do manage to work part-time and take care of their living expenses to some extent. At the same time if a student is going to stay inside the campus it’s going to be expensive,” he adds.
ELS Educational Services has designated counsellors who have lived and studied in the country about which they are expected to counsel their students.
Postgraduate studies in Medicine are popular. Mr. Prabhu, says, “When students go for their master’s in the medical field, if it’s related to clinical practice, they have to clear the Australian Medical Council (AMC) board. Students often choose courses like Public Health or optometry…” Accountancy is another popular choice. According to Mr. Sundharam, “Students who have a BE in Mechanical, Electrical or Communications have good opportunities. Because the country is working on a billion-dollar cable network… The whole country is going to be on fire-optic cables by the end of 2019. So with this project going on, they would require a large number of engineers to work with the government.”
Mr. Sundharam emphasises the value of this option. While financial aspects are important for a student especially, if one looks at the experience a student would gain by working part-time, it is nowhere equivalent to the financial gain made by him or her. He says, “I worked in an IT environment, food marketing, retail, university and now in student services… The load of experience that I could bring to my life gave me a chance to explore different types of career…”