By DIRK MULDER

The August international student figures demonstrate the success of the regional bonus scheme, so much so that smaller metro destinations want a piece of the action. They will get, as announced over the weekend with Perth and the Gold Coast obtaining the call up.

Where this came from: In March, the Government announced it would reduce the permanent migration cap from 190,000 to 160,000 places, but within that set aside 23,000 places for regional visas.

On Saturday, Immigration Minister David Coleman announced it is increasing the total number of regional places to 25,000 as well as taking Perth and the Gold Coast off the major metro list, making them more attractive to international students who want work opportunities after graduating.

The regional incentives from 16 November:

Definition Locations Regional incentives
Major Cities Sydney

Melbourne

Brisbane

 

–          NA
Cities and major regional centres Perth

Adelaide

Gold Coast

Sunshine Coast Canberra Newcastle/Lake Macquarie

Wollongong/Illawarra Geelong

Hobart

 

–          Access to the dedicated 25,000 regional places.

–          Priority processing on regional visas.

–          Access to the Regional Occupations List –  more jobs compared to non-regional lists.

–          International students studying at regional universities will be eligible to access an additional year in Australia on a post-study work visa.

Regional centres and other regional areas All other locations

 

 

 

–          Access to the dedicated 25,000 regional places.

–          Priority processing on regional visas.

–          Access to the Regional Occupations List – more jobs compared to non-regional lists.

–          International students studying at regional universities will be eligible to access an additional 2 years in Australia on a post-study work visa.

–          Priority in negotiating region-specific Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMAs).

So far, so great:  The scheme is undoubtedly working. Sign-ups currently are SA, TAS, NT and ACT and August TYD shows overall (all sectors) that SA is up 17.3 per cent, TAS is up 34.8 per cent, NT is up 38.9 per cent while the ACT is down 15.1 per cent.

Especially for VET: Within each state, VET is driving growth. In SA VET is up 43.5 per cent (HE is up 18.4 per cent), TAS sees VET grow 78 per cent (HE 9.5 per cent), NT sees VET up 108.3 per cent (HE 10.9 per cent). In the ACT the VET growth of 13.1 per cent is counter-acted by 10. 3 per cent decline in higher education.

August is big for WA, which passed on the scheme when first introduced. It then decided to introduce it’s own state sponsored program which assisted HE students but not VET students.

And next for Perth and the Gold Coast: Last week I reported (CMM October 27) WA had decided to expand its programme to VET and predicted the state would sign-on to the national bonus scheme.

It has, with the announcement not coming soon enough for the state’s VET sector, which slid even further in commencements in August, declining 8.7 per cent.

If the trend for states participating in the federal scheme continues, WA voced will improve before long.

WA isn’t the only non-metro destination which wanted a slice of the regional pie. The Gold Coast, was keen to be included on the regional list. Study Gold Coast chief executive Alfred Slogrove is on the record saying the city only attracts four per cent of the international student market, compared to Melbourne and Sydney which are home to about 85 per cent of international students.

But there’s a ways to go:  While the scheme is certainly assisting smaller states in the international education market) to increase their attractiveness, they still lag well behind the competition from the big-city states.

While their August YTD growth rates are way behind states in the regional scheme (NSW up 4.5 per cent, VIC up 8.1 per cent, Queensland up 6.5 per cent and WA up 7.5 per cent) the real story is in the student number quantum.

The regional status states together grew at 11.7 per cent and added an additional 3676 student commencements compared to same time last year.  In contrast, the “metro” states grew at 6.3% and added an additional 21,924 students.

The regional scheme is working but is still a long way from delivering the kind of shifts first imagined.

Dirk Mulder is an international education business developer, strategist and market analyst. Contact him @ dirk@mulderpr.com


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