Indian international students contributed more than $6.4 billion to pre-covid Australian economy

Impact of AI-ECTA on Education: An additional year will be available for Indians who graduate with bachelor degrees in STEM and ICT with first Class Honours (from two to three years).

The Australia India Business Exchange (AIBX) India Market Updates 2022, hosted by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade), was held in each capital city recently giving exporters actionable market insights into the world’s fastest-growing major economy. 

Australian businesses and exporters got the chance to quiz trade and investment experts about opportunities to break into the Indian market

Austrade’s General Manager, South Asia, Catherine Gallagher said India offers Australian goods and services exporters significant opportunities across education, agribusiness and food, technology, infrastructure, resources and energy. 

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By supporting the Australian and Indian business communities to engage with each other, we hope to build on existing momentum and support commercial success.” 

Dr Monica-Kennedy, Senior Commissioner, Austrade; Image Source: Supplied

Joining the panel at the Melbourne Grand Hyatt was Dr Monica Kennedy, Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner South Asia, Austrade, Frances Lisson PSM, Chief Negotiator, DFAT, Denise Eaton, Trade and Investment Commissioner South Asia, Austrade and Apurwa Sarve, Senior Manager Strategy & Emerging Markets, H&H Group (Swisse Wellness).

The discussion provided insights on the Australia-India Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement that was signed on 2 April. Once in force it will see tariffs eliminated on more than 85 per cent of Australian goods exports to India (valued at more than $12.6 billion a year), rising to almost 91 per cent (valued at $13.4 billion) over 10 years.

In an exclusive interview with The Australia Today, Dr Kennedy said “It’s an alignment of stars right at the moment” with regards to the Australia-India Education sector relationship.

India is the world’s largest democracy and one of the world’s fastest-growing major economy, with GDP projected to grow at 8.2 per cent in 2022-23. 

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One particular sector in focus was the education sector which is set to boom once the agreement is in place.

India is Australia’s second-largest source of international students. Export value of the Education sector to India was AUD 6.2 Bn in 2020. As of December 2021, there were 129,864 Indian students enrolled at Australian institutions. 

Few points which are aiding the recruitment effort post covid:

  • Temporarily relaxed student visa work limits for all sector 
  • Concessions on the TGV allowing enhanced PSWR, including additional year for STEM graduates 
  • India roadshow and recruitment efforts of Universities and education partners 
  • Study Australia Industry Engagement program 

Enhanced employment options as a direct result of border reopening and all sectors of the Australian economy getting back to a state of normalcy 

Indian international students studying in Australia contributed more than $6.4 billion to the economy in 2019, pre-COVID. India is Australia’s second-largest source market for international student enrolments, accounting for 15.2% of international students in 2019, pre-COVID, and 16.3% in 2022.

Image Source: Austrade

Two initiatives by Australia government:

The Digital Education Hub

The Digital Education Hub seeks to elevate Australia’s international education brand position in India, showcase Australia’s excellence in education and employability, and improve market literacy. The Hub comprises digital tools, tailored content and resources, virtual and physical events, and campaign activity funnelled via a flagship India landing page designed to drive increased demand and growth in high-quality student enrolments.

The Future skills initiative

The Australia India Future Skills Initiative will establish a digital platform, delivered in partnership with industry, to connect Australian vocational education, training and skills providers, Indian business, government, learners, and employers.

The initiative will:

  • Deliver leading Australian training capability to meet India’s key future skills needs 
  • Support capability development and capacity building in India by upskilling India’s workforce through world-class Australian educational programs 
  • Build strategic business relationships to establish Australia as a training partner of choice, upskill India’s workforce and support Indian careers through relevant employment pathways.

The initiative will have four components:

  • Australian training course search and delivery platform, purpose-built for Indian students 
  • Promotion and profiling of Australian capability through business, learner, and employer success stories 
  • Dedicated Austrade team across Australia and India – leadership and business development managers to secure industry partnerships and facilitate opportunities between Australian providers and Indian industry to deliver formal training qualifications and career pathway 
  • Two-way skills missions to support Australian and Indian providers to connect with government and industry in India and Australia, to scope out prospective courses, pathways, and new products.

Impacts of AI-ECTA on Education:

Post Study visa:

  • Australia has for the first time confirmed post-study work rights in a side letter to a free trade agreement and will extend access for highly sought-after STEM and ICT graduates.
  • At the same time, former Indian students will also be able to live, study and work in Australia temporarily upon completion of their studies

Australia will maintain opportunities for former Indian students to live, study and work temporarily upon completion of a diploma or trade qualification (up to 18 months)

      bachelor degree (up to two years)

      masters degrees (up to three years)

      doctoral degree (up to four years).

An additional year will be available for Indians who graduate with bachelor degrees in STEM and ICT  with First Class Honours (from two to three years).

Visa Commitments

  • Australia has secured clarity around visa pathways and application procedures like periods of stay and other visa conditions from India to support outward mobility for businesses and professionals
  • This includes equivalent commitments on categories of the entrant, length of stay, spouses and dependents, but does not include a waiver of labour market testing.
  • This includes equivalent commitments on categories of the entrant, length of stay, spouses and dependents
  • In addition, India will provide a reciprocal work-based immigration route for Australians who successfully complete their studies and who wish to supplement their training with professional experience in India, to open up greater opportunities post-study.
Image Source: Austrade

Mutual Recognition Agreements

  • AI-ECTA will support establishing a Professional Services Working Group for the future facilitation of the mutual recognition of qualifications, licensing and registration procedures between professional services bodies.
  • These obligations include elements such as coverage of all licenses and regulated occupations, allowing for temporary/project-specific licenses where feasible and establishing a mechanism of the Working Group to pursue obligations related to this.
  • This will pave the way for initiating dialogues on Mutual Recognition Agreements in Nursing, Architecture and other professional services between the professional bodies of India and Australia, which in turn will facilitate the movement of professionals in each other’s territory.

New market access

  • Australia has provided new market access for culturally significant occupations for a combined total of 1,800 per year of
  •  qualified professional traditional chefs and yoga instructors entering as contractual service suppliers of India.

Work and Holiday program.

  • Work and Holiday visa with multiple entries has been offered by Australia to 1000 young Indians, in the age group of 18-30 years, for a period of one year.
  • Under this, they can undertake study or training for up to four months (17 weeks) or undertake paid or unpaid employment for the entire duration of their stay in Australia, generally for up to six months with any one employer.