Published: 23rd September 2022
Australian dreams made easy: Int'l Director of Macquarie University talks about delayed visas, scholarships
David Harrison, International Director of Macquarie University (MQ), speaks with EdexLive about the opportunities for Indian students in Australia
Australia has increasingly become a popular destination for Indian students. According to reports, Indian students make 23% of the student population in Australia in 2022. A lot of it has to do with the laws of the country and the opportunities available for international students. Additionally, Australia also provides a multicultural and inclusive atmosphere on campus.
To address all the needs and doubts of Indian students aspiring to pursue their studies in Australia, EdexLive interviewed David Harrison, International Director of Macquarie University, who was visiting India from September 12 to 16. Macquarie University (MQ), Australia, at present is among the top 2% of universities in the world and top 10 in Australia. Excerpts from a conversation:
What is the edge that an Indian student might get when applying to Australian Universities?
An Indian student applying and studying in Australia can look forward to a world-class education in one of the world’s most desirable and attractive destinations. In fact, Australia’s own laws promote quality education and protection for international students. It is the only country in the world to have an act of parliament to protect the rights of students and ensure that they get what they pay for.
Students can experience a beautiful, welcoming multicultural society represented by the over 30% of Australians who are migrants from other countries. Sydney, where Macquarie University is based, has people from many different nationalities making it an amazing melting pot of cultures and backgrounds. The city offers a very safe, secure environment to study with ideal climatic conditions that Indian students are familiar with.
Students can avail of several benefits that are tied up in the Australian education system – the most attractive being the post-study work opportunities making it one of the most desirable destinations among Indian students. Students can study a bachelor's or a two-year master's degree and upon qualification, they can apply to stay in Australia for a further two to three years after their degree to enter the job market in Australia. They gain access to an extremely successful high-growth economy with high salaries and high levels of skill demand, to which, students can gain valuable experience.
Why is it that the number of Indian students applying to Australia is on the rise?
Australia has seen a significant rise in the demand for university study year-on-year and the principal reason for this is word of mouth about the great experience students are having. More and more Indians are coming to study in our world-class education system and are putting in a good word to their friends and family connections making Australia one of their first choices.
What is the application process to Macquarie University for Indian students like?
The application process is a straightforward procedure for students. Students need their verified academic results and English language test scores, and they can read the detailed entry requirements on the website. Typically, if a student applies online with all of their documents they can expect an outcome within a week. So it is not a scary process and it’s very clearly detailed on the website. We also have official representatives within India who can assist students with the application process.
Quite a few Indian students had to deal with the hurdle of a delayed Australian visa in the post-COVID era, how will that be resolved and how long will that issue persist?
The most important advice to an Indian student applying for study in Australia is to be well organised and apply well in advance of your intake to allow sufficient time for your visa. The government has recently announced major new funding and hiring of new staff for visa processing and visa turnaround time is now improving; but the advice is still to apply for your visa well in advance of your study so that you then have time to obtain your visa, arrange accommodation and a smooth transition to Australia.
David Harrison, International Director of Macquarie University
A recent study by IDP connect reveals that the prime motivation for Indian students to study in Australia is to gain permanent residency and work rights. Tell us why is it so. And what about other factors like quality education?
Clearly, Indian students and students from around the world are looking for quality education but also in return for their investment, they are looking for value for money. International education is a major investment in time and in finance, which is why students are looking for a clear understanding of their employment outcomes, salary and job satisfaction expectations post their study.
It's critical for universities to continue to offer practical courses and deliver work-ready education. So, naturally, students are looking at universities that deliver industry relevant experience during study and then also opportunities for post-study work and the ability to then apply skills learned in education and work in a vibrant economy like Australia. Areas of skills shortage in Australia, such as information technology, cyber security, engineering and healthcare, to name a few areas, are increasingly attractive options for students.
However, while permanent residency is a goal for some people, universities are not qualified to provide advice regarding migration. There are many factors involved in migration, which also change over time. Students are best advised to choose a study area that they are passionate about, rather than one they believe may help them with future migration – after all if they may be spending a lifetime working in their area of study, so its important that it is one they enjoy!
Recently, the University announced a $40000 scholarship for Indian and students from other South Asian countries. Can you tell us a little more about it and how would it benefit the students from India?
We are very proud to have a large scholarship fund for students applying from India. The scholarship fund is available to all students from India that receive a full offer into their chosen course and it is to the value of $10,000 for each year of study, so if they study for a three or four years bachelor's, they will receive $30,000 to $40,000 scholarship. And if they study a two-year master’s programme, they would receive a $20,000 scholarship.
The great thing for the students is that we issue them the offer of the scholarship at the same time we assess their application for the course. So a student can find out usually within a week – if they have full documents in their application – whether they've received an offer to their course and at the same time they will receive their scholarship offer.
There have been criticisms about the cost of the medical degree course offered by MQ. This might be a financial constraint for South Asian students. What is your opinion on that? How does the college intend to assist them?
Medical programmes by the nature are very expensive and elite courses. The fees for the medicine programme at Macquarie University are benchmarked across other universities that have world-leading medical programmes. The number of places for medical programmes in Australia is highly restricted due to clinical placement requirements and therefore, places are highly competitive. Students may also wish to consider study in the broader health sciences field such as public health, physiotherapy, medical sciences or chiropractic studies where there are less restrictions on student places.
What are the career opportunities for Indian students in Australia after their course?
The data shows that Indian students when they graduate and work in Australia are doing very well. The opportunities for students will of course depend upon their individual level of communication skills, their adaptability and how well they present and apply themselves. Employers look at the holistic individual when they are taking on graduates. But Indian students have shown great versatility and are employed in a whole range of sectors in Australia.
Particularly, but not exclusively, in the high-tech information technology and engineering area where the students excel in cities like Sydney, which is the economic powerhouse of Australia. High starting salaries and low levels of unemployment create an attractive job market for graduates that have applied themselves during their study and can demonstrate to employers their communications and soft skills as well as their technical abilities.
What are the key programmes offered by MQ that attract Indian students?
Macquarie is ranking in the top 1% of global universities – within the top 200 in the world. Areas of study that continue to be very popular include banking and finance, management, business analytics and information technology in specialised areas such as cyber security, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and data science. Students are also increasingly choosing to study for double master's degrees, gaining two qualifications in complementary areas such as marketing and media and communications for example.
Indian students face a lot of racism in Australia. What does the University do to ensure that international students aren't at the receiving end of it?
Australia is an extremely welcoming country and racism is not tolerated in any form by all levels of society and community. The University, together with Australian employers, have strict anti-discrimination policies and racism is not tolerated in any form.
In my time in Australia, which is over 20 years as a migrant, I have witnessed very few instances of any form of discrimination or racism. Australia is a very vibrant, multicultural community and we have 7.00,000 Indians living in Australia who are very well integrated into the community throughout Australia.