Overseas education and permanent residency (PR) are two very different things and it is dangerous for students to mix them for short-term gains. Also, it is not advisable to choose a country for higher education under peer pressure or family ties in foreign countries.
This was stated by India's well-known Australia student visa expert, Gulshan Kumar, in an exclusive interview with RMS Atwal.
Having worked with the Australian High Commission as their Education Officer for over three decades, Kumar is of the opinion that with the mushrooming growth of foreign education visa consultants in the country, the Indian student is confused.
"Most of the so-called study abroad consultants are minting money from students and their parents by simply misguiding them. They are selling foreign education like vegetables," said Kumar who is also the Director of Kangaroo Studies, a Delhi-based education services company.
Being an authority on Australian education, Kumar opines that education in Australia is a pathway for migration or permanent residency and it will always help the student in his/ her career goals, but choosing a course with a focus on PR could prove 'very dangerous'. Also, before flying, students should try to obtain as much information about the country as they can, he advised.
The present times are the best for Indian students to study abroad and hone their skills, and Australia remains a top choice for them. In an apparent bid to stop the glut of poor quality students, the country has put fresh visa curbs and introduced the Critical Skills List category.
Kumar, however, speaks highly about the Australian education system and institutions by putting them at a par with world class institutions in the UK, the USA or Canada.
Talking about the current world recession and its impact on foreign education, he says, "No doubt, the world is going through a great recession with companies cutting jobs everywhere but Australia does not seem to be affected so severely, as the number of Indian students to that country is still increasing.
"The number may in fact soar higher as many of the students who have lost their jobs in India because of their limited or semi-skills would like to avail of this opportunity to upgrade their education and skill level and thereby better prepare themselves for the future."
During the course of the interview, Kumar touched upon a variety of topics relating to Australia education, like:
Indian students do follow their friends and relatives and this could be the case with anybody in any country. In fact, this happens only if the students who have gone earlier are satisfied with their institutions and living conditions there. The word of mouth is so strong for Australia that it has become one of the most favourable destinations not only for Indian students but students from over 195 countries, including the USA, the UK, Ireland, Germany and Canada.
It is noteworthy that 280,000 international students undertake their studies in Australia every year.
There are no Oxfords and Harvards in Australia, but there is a Group of Eight (G8) universities out of a total of 41 that can be compared with any world-class university and all of them are considered to be in the top 100 universities in the world.
Australian Government legislation requires all its institutions to be registered and meet quality assurance measures. It is up to the student to choose the institutions which will fulfill his/her needs and aspirations. All Australian universities have a very important role in research and development. There are 35 special Research Centres and Key Centres of Teaching and Research based at Australian universities and another 74 Cooperative Research Centres. This again proves the quality of Australian universities.
The Australian Government is very concerned about marketing education abroad and a recent change in the policy, bringing a Critical Skills List category, was one move from the government in this direction. There could be more changes in the near future to counter this move.
Student visa curbs
The tightening of study visa depends on the compliance rate of the country, and this is not only applied in Australia. Any country would do it when international students do not comply with the conditions of their visas. Australia is a popular destination for Indian students and it will remain so in the future also, as it offers all that an international student could want from overseas education.
It is the first country to bring in legislation not only to protect the rights of international students but specify the obligations of the education providers in Australia. Australia is also the first country to introduce the electronic lodgments of student visas, which is hassle-free and does not require students to stand in a queue at the Australian High Commission.
English is the national language of Australia and all teachings are conducted in English only. Therefore, students need to have strong and effective English communication skills. There are number of English teaching institutes in India from where students can improve their communication skills. Those who can afford to pay can also upgrade their English before the course starts in Australia.
Kangaroo Studies Private Limited (KSPL) is an education services company. It has IELTS, Spoken English and TOEFL centres spread all over Punjab and is one of the most respected education consultancies in the state.
RMS Atwal is a freelance journalist and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org