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Australia's top research universities propose special visa for international PhDs

A bilateral task force set up by the elite Group of Eight consortium has drafted an action plan to strengthen academic and research ties between Australia and India.
BY BrainGain Magazine Staff Writer |   14-09-2017
The Chemistry building at the University of Melbourne, a member of Australia's elite Group of Eight research universities
The Chemistry building at the University of Melbourne, a member of Australia’s elite Group of Eight research universities (photo by HistorygroupZRZ, used under CC license)

The Group of Eight (Go8), a consortium of eight of Australia’s top research universities, has proposed a special class of visa for researchers and PhD graduates. It was one of the priorities highlighted at the second Australian Business Week in India (ABWI), held from August 28 to September 1, 2017, led by Australia’s trade minister Steven Ciobo.

Go8 Chief Executive Vicki Thomson said, “With six of our members in the world’s top 100 universities, we are an ideal research student destination. In recognition that we graduate more than half of Australia’s PhDs each year, the Go8 has established a bilateral task force with India. It is co-chaired by the Go8 Chair Professor Peter Høj, and Director of the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B) Professor Devang Khakhar. It now has its initial action plan, recommending how the two countries best navigate barriers to our comprehensive student and research collaboration agenda.”

A report by PIE News quoted Mr Ciobo as saying that Australia was the second most popular destination for Indian students (the most popular being the United States), and attracted 60,000 students last year. “Greater science and research collaboration is central to Australia’s commercial future with India,” it quoted him as saying.

Above: Australia’s trade minister Steven Ciobo at Delhi’s Azadpur Mandi, Asia’s largest produce wholesale market, during his recent visit to India

Ms Thomson said, “One of the factors that Indian students considering a PhD overseas look at is their post-study work and career opportunities. Even the recent changes to skilled migrant work visas that didn’t directly affect PhD students reportedly had a negative impact on perceptions of Indian students towards Australia as a study destination.”

She added that US work restrictions on international PhD graduates presented an opportunity for Australia, which could offer a better pathway from a PhD to a career.

A view of Australian National University
A view of Australian National University (photo by Cazz, used under CC license)

The ABWI also focused on skills training, with Mr Ciobo underscoring the “looming demand” for skilled workers in India, the PIE News report noted. “Australia’s excellent vocational education system, including our online capability, can play a significant role in helping India achieve its goals,” it quoted Mr Ciobo as saying.

In April, Australia’s Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull announced that the 457 temporary skilled work visa would be scrapped and replaced with a more stringent visa from March 2018, affecting an estimated 3,000 researchers and university staff. In July, however, the government restored four-year visas for professors and other leading university staff with a pathway to permanent residency, and said time spent studying towards a PhD would count as work experience for the purpose of applying for a new skilled visa.

The Go8 consists of the University of Melbourne, Australian National University, University of Sydney, University of Queensland, University of Western Australia, University of Adelaide, Monash University, and UNSW Sydney.


For more on studying in Australia, check out these links!
Australia relaxes visa rules for university staff members
Australia tightens work visa rules, scraps popular temporary work visa
90% of Indians studying in Australia are extremely satisfied, says education minister
Your guide to the Australian student visa application
8 great scholarships for international students in Australia
Apply Australia: basics of the application process



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