Migrant visas fast-tracked for regional Australia in $19 million plan

Skilled migrants will have their visa applications accelerated if they move to regional Australia under a $19.4 million plan.

Immigration Minister David Coleman on Friday announced the initiative as state and territory treasurers met in Canberra to discuss population growth and congestion issues.
The money will be used over four years and Department of Home Affairs officials will travel to regional areas to help local businesses get more skilled workers.

Under the plan, there will be priority processing for visas sponsored by employers in regional areas, as well as agreements where local councils are able to recruit workers from overseas.
“Our officers will be on the ground to discuss regional migration opportunities with regional employers and communities, and also to hear first hand the local labour issues they face,” Mr Coleman said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously flagged migrants could be asked to spend five years in a regional area if they want permanent residency.

Mr Morrison has also flagged cuts to Australia’s annual migration intake to ease congestion in major cities.

Treasurers talk population growth
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg met with the treasurers in Canberra on Friday morning to discuss how the nation can share responsibility for population change, with a particular focus on easing congestion with infrastructure.

“Two-thirds of new immigrants are going to our capital cities, in particular Sydney, Melbourne and in southeast Queensland,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“This is creating pressures on infrastructure, not only on our roads but also on our public transport, creating pressures on health, on education and other essential services.”
“We need to send people where the jobs are and we need to cooperate across state and territories.”

Australia’s permanent migration number is capped at 190,000 people each year but has only reached about 160,000 over the past few years, Mr Frydenberg added.

But the Treasurer was coy on whether he thinks the migration cap should be lowered.

“Well let’s look year by year as to what are the needs across the community, but certainly there are population pressures that are contributing to congestion in our major cities,” he said.

Mr Frydenberg conceded Australia hasn’t planned well for the future, as the population reached 25 million people earlier than expected.


Queensland closes skilled migration for 2018-19

Queensland has closed its state nomination program for 2018-19.

The state’s official migration website, Business and Skilled Migration Queensland (BMSQ) says the state has now closed state nomination for all business and skilled visas (submitted through SkillSelect) from 8 February 2019.

“No further invitations will be issued from this date. BSMQ will continue to process applications which have been already invited for state nomination prior to this date until our quota is exhausted.”
The program will reopen in the new financial year which begins on July 1st, 2019.

“BSMQ will re-open the State Nomination Program in the new financial year. Please submit a new EOI after the new occupation lists have been released in July. We will not select any submitted EOI’s prior to this time”, the website said.

Queensland runs the skilled nominated migration (190) program in order to attract highly skilled people in a range of occupations to contribute to NSW skills needs.

According to the state’s website, “This is a point-tested visa for skilled workers and postgraduate alumni who wish to live and work in Queensland permanently. The Queensland postgraduate degree stream offers streamlined conditions for Masters and PhD graduates from a Queensland-based university.”
Another program, Skilled Nominated (Provisional) visa (subclass 489), is a 4-year point-tested visa “which leads to permanent residency and requires nominated skilled workers to be employed and live in regional Queensland.


It’s time to shut down the student visa rort

The Victorian Government last month called for a review of entry requirements into Australian universities after growing evidence had emerged that foreign students with poor English language proficiency are badly eroding education standards and placing undue strain on lecturers and university staff.

This was immediately followed by academics admitting to Fairfax that they had lowered teaching standards and passed failing international students in order to maintain the foreign student trade.

The international student association also called for greater regulation of overseas migration agents amid widespread cheating on English tests to gain access to Australian universities.

Last week, practising psychiatrist, Tanveer Ahmed, penned an article in The AFR claiming that international students “obtain degrees of limited value and are consigned to low-skilled work”:

Wages are depressed for the majority of low and semi-skilled workers…

Many international students also obtain degrees of limited value and are consigned to low-skilled work… they make up a large chunk of the service worker underclass. They are not captured in the unskilled category. A 2017 study by training company Hobsons found only 34 per cent of workplaces were willing to take a risk on international graduates.

Natives have the opportunity to take jobs that make use of their superior English, whereas low-skilled migrants compete against other migrants at the bottom end of the labour market.

Whereas over the weekend, The Australian’s Judith Sloan argued that the cost of Australia’s turbo-charged international student market probably outweighs the purported $36 billion of annual export earnings:

Let me run through some of the costs of international students that are often ignored — indeed, often denied. They include the impact on educational standards, the potential for international students to be exploited in the labour market, the real motivation of students to gain permanent residence, and the dubious practices of some ­migration agencies.

…let us look at the research undertaken by economist Gigi Foster, who was given access to the records of students, both local and international, at the University of South Australia and UTS. Note her research was published in a peer-reviewed journal.

The question that Foster was trying to answer was: do more international students affect educational standards? What she found was that international students do consistently worse than local students but because students are marked according to the curve (in large courses, at least), international students do better when there are fewer local students in a course. This is because there are fewer local students to occupy the top end of the distribution of marks.

She also looked at tutorial performance and found that local students do worse in tutorials with more international students. Foster concludes that there is clear evidence of a dumbing down of courses because of poor language skills of international students…

We also know from the work of the Fair Work Ombudsman that there are many cases of underpayment of low-skill workers. Often these workers are on student visas and the maltreatment is perpetrated by businesses whose owners were also born overseas…

As MB has argued repeatedly, Australia’s universities have morphed from “higher learning” to “higher earning”, as evidenced by the massive explosion in full fee-paying foreign students:

Australia’s education system has become an integral part of the immigration industry and the ‘Big Australia’ population ponzi – effectively a way for foreigners to buy backdoor permanent residency and working rights.

Even the lobby group representing foreign students in Australia – the Council for International Students in Australia (CISA) – point blank admitted that students come here to migrate, not because of the quality of education on offer:

The Council for International Students in Australia said foreign potential students were attracted to Australia by the possibility of migrating here.

But Mr Dutton’s strong views on border policy and his statement that Australia should reduce its intake of migrants “where we believe it is in our national interest” would tip the balance for some would-be students…

The national president of CISA, Bijay Sapkota, said… “For people coming from low socio-economic backgrounds there has to be a value proposition. If they go home they will not get value. So there has to be a possibility of immigration.”

Three recent Australian reports (here, here and here) have similarly raised the alarm about the flood of international students and the degradation of standards, but have been attacked by the rent-seeking Universities Australia.

Dr Cameron Murray – an economics lecturer at the University of Queensland – also highlighted the problem in detail, which supports Judith Sloan’s arguments:

A thread on my experience:

1. 90% of students in my economics masters classes are international.
2. Half of them struggle with basic English
3. When I ask in tutorials why they are doing the degree, half tell me that they “need more points for their residency visa” (1/n)
4. They tell me they choose economics because they can do the maths but don’t need to understand anything or write anything.
5. I always set written essays or reports. Students tell me that they know other students are using paid ‘essay writing’ services to pass my class (2/n)
6. If half the class can’t understand English it brings down standards. It must—unless I fail half the class.
7. Think about the incentives—a casual lecturer who costs $25,000 fails 50 students paying $250,000. Change lecturer next year or reduce intake to keep standards? (3/n)
8. It is frustrating when top international students from foreign governments/central banks come to your class, then sit next to rich Chinese (almost always Chinese) who can’t understand a word and are there to buy a visa (4/n)
9. The evidence shows the effect on standards is real. https://www.sciencedirect.com/…/article/abs/pii/S0272775712…
None of this is a secret. That research is from 2011. Here’s an article from 2014: https://www.smh.com.au/…/academics-accuse-universities-of-a…
10. Unfortunately, this reality conflicts with the widely believed myth that our immigration program brings in “high skilled” workers.
11. 350,000 international students paying $25,000+ per year to study is $9billion being pumped through our top dozen universities. (6/n)
12. Halving the number of international students would keep all the good students, boost standards for all, and remove the visa scams.
13. But this would remove $4.5billion per year of revenue to the universities. (7/n)
14. In sum, universities are being degraded so they can be used as a back-door immigration program, and no one at the senior levels of universities or major political parties want to change it.
15. It is nearly career suicide for younger academics to say anything about it (8/8)

I forgot to add that almost every student I failed or called out for plagiarism got second and third chances until they passed. After the first chance it is taken out of my hands to higher ups at the faculty…

There is nothing new in this thread. @4corners did a big investigation a few years ago. Nothing changed AFAIK. People are just used to the new reality. https://economics.com.au/…/universities-corruption-and-sta…/

More here: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/…/9082a4d2234f019af2ddd1f6… and here: https://economics.com.au/…/are-we-going-easy-on-foreign-st…/

The sad reality is that Australia’s universities are little more than giant rent-seeking businesses that clip the ticket on the deluge of foreign students arriving in the hope of transitioning to permanent residency. The end result has been the dumbing-down of standards and too many university graduates chasing too few professional jobs.

The universities love this set up as they get to maximise fees and profit, and privatise the gains from Australia’s immigration system. By contrast, the broader community wears the costs.

At the same time as Vice-chancellors’ pay has exploded to an average of $1 million on the back of the student flood, university students are stuck paying off expensive and increasingly worthless degrees, taxpayers are stuck writing-off unpayable debts, and the broader population is suffering under the never-ending population crush.

Policymakers must place a firm leash on the university sector, starting with removing the link between foreign students studying at university and gaining work visas and permanent residency. Australia’s universities must be forced to compete on quality and value alone, not as a backdoor pathway for immigration.


Changes to Skilled Occupation Lists Added to MLTSSL

Changes to Skilled Occupation Lists
Added to MLTSSL

Applicable Instruments: LIN 19/047; LIN 19/048; LIN 19/049; LIN 19/051

Telecommunications network planner (ANZSCO code 313213)
Pressure welder (ANZSCO code 322312)
Environmental Manager (ANZSCO code 139912)
Musician (Instrumental) (ANZSCO code 211213)
Statistician (ANZSCO code 224113)
Economist (ANZSCO code 224311)
Mining Engineer (excluding Petroleum) (ANZSCO code 233611)
Petroleum Engineer (ANZSCO code 233612)
Engineering Professionals nec (ANZSCO code 233999)
Chemist (ANZSCO code 234211)
Food Technologist (ANZSCO code 234212)
Environmental Consultant (ANZSCO code 234312)
Environmental Research Scientist (ANZSCO code 234313)
Environmental Scientists nec (ANZSCO code 234399)
Geophysicist (ANZSCO code 234412)
Hydrogeologist (ANZSCO code 234413)
Life Scientist (General) (ANZSCO code 234511)
Biochemist (ANZSCO code 234513)
Biotechnologist (ANZSCO code 234514)
Botanist (ANZSCO code 234515)
Marine Biologist (ANZSCO code 234516)
Microbiologist (ANZSCO code 234517)
Zoologist (ANZSCO code 234518)
Life Scientists nec (ANZSCO code 234599)
Conservator (ANZSCO code 234911)
Metallurgist (ANZSCO code 234912)
Meteorologist (ANZSCO code 234913)
Natural and Physical Science Professionals nec (ANZSCO code 234999)
University Lecturer (ANZSCO code 242111)
Multimedia Specialist (ANZSCO code 261211)
Software and Applications Programmers nec (ANZSCO code 261399)
Horse Trainer (ANZSCO code 361112)
Physicist – no longer restricted to medical physicist
Added to STSOL

Applicable Instrument LIN 19/048

visual arts and crafts professionals (nec) (ANZSCO code 211499)
textile, clothing and footwear mechanic (ANZSCO code 323215)
watch and clock maker and repairer (ANZSCO code 323316)
chemical plant operator (ANZSCO code 399211)
library technician (ANZSCO code 399312)
Moved from STSOL to MLTSSL

Applicable Instruments – LIN 19/047; LIN 19/048; LIN 19/049; LIN 19/050

arts administrator or manager (ANZSCO code 139911)
dancer or choreographer (ANZSCO code 211112)
music director (ANZSCO code 211212)
artistic director (ANZSCO code 212111)
tennis coach (ANZSCO code 452316)
footballer (ANZSCO code 452411)
Removed from STSOL

Applicable Instrument LIN 19/050

Visual Arts and Crafts Professionals (ANZSCO code 211499)
Textile, Clothing and Footwear Mechanic (ANZSCO code 323215)
Watch and Clock Maker and Repairer (ANZSCO code 323316)
Chemical Plant Operator (ANZSCO code 399211)
Library Technician (ANZSCO code 399312)
Arts Administrator or Manager (ANZSCO code 139911)
Dancer or Choreographer (ANZSCO code 211112)
Music Director (ANZSCO code 211212)
Artistic Director (ANZSCO code 212111)
Footballer (ANZSCO code 452411)
Aquaculture Farmer (ANZSCO code 121111)
Cotton Grower (ANZSCO code 121211)
Fruit or Nut Grower (ANZSCO code 121213)
Grain, Oilseed or Pasture Grower (ANZSCO code 121214)
Mixed Crop Farmer (ANZSCO code 121216)
Sugar Cane Grower (ANZSCO code 121217)
Crop Farmers nec (ANZSCO code 121299)
Beef Cattle Farmer (ANZSCO code 121312)
Dairy Cattle Farmer (ANZSCO code 121313)
Mixed Livestock Farmer (ANZSCO code 121317)
Pig Farmer (ANZSCO code 121318)
Sheep Farmer (ANZSCO code 121322)
Livestock Farmers nec (ANZSCO code 121399)
Mixed Crop and Livestock Farmer (ANZSCO code 121411)
Dentist (ANZSCO code 252312)
Anaesthetist (ANZSCO code 253211)
Tennis Coach (ANZSCO code 4542316)
Added to Regional Occupation List

Applicable Instrument LIN 19/048

deer farmer (ANZSCO code 121314)
goat farmer (ANZSCO code 121315)
Added to Regional Occupation List, removed from STSOL

Applicable Instruments: LIN 19/048;

aquaculture farmer (ANZSCO code 121111)
cotton grower (ANZSCO code 121211)
fruit or nut grower (ANZSCO code 121213)
grain, oilseed or pasture grower (Aus) / field crop grower (NZ) (ANZSCO code 121214)
mixed crop farmer (ANZSCO code 121216)
sugar cane grower (ANZSCO code 121217)
crop farmers (nec) (ANZSCO code 121299)
beef cattle farmer (ANZSCO code 121312)
dairy cattle farmer (ANZSCO code 121313)
mixed livestock farmer (ANZSCO code 121317)
pig farmer (ANZSCO code 121318)
sheep farmer (ANZSCO code 121322)
livestock farmers (nec) (ANZSCO code 121399)
mixed crop and livestock farmer (ANZSCO code 121411)
dentist (ANZSCO code 252312)
anaesthetist (ANZSCO code 253211)
Removed from Regional Occupation List moved to MLTSSL

Applicable Instruments: LIN 19/047; LIN 19/049

arts administrator or manager (ANZSCO code 139911)
dancer or choreographer (ANZSCO code 211112)
music director (ANZSCO code 211212)
artistic director (ANZSCO code 212111)
tennis coach (ANZSCO code 452316)
footballer (ANZSCO code 452411)
telecommunications network planner (ANZSCO code 313213)
pressure welder (ANZSCO code 322312)
Occupations with added conditions

Applicable Instruments: LIN 19/047 (SC 187); LIN 19/048 (SC 482); LIN 19/049 (SC 186)

The following medical practitioner occupations now require a Health Workforce Certificate for the position and occupation to be presented with the nomination application

general practitioner (ANZSCO code 253111)
medical practitioners (nec) (ANZSCO code 253999)
resident medical officer (ANZSCO code 253112)
Applicability conditions added/changed

Condition 25

imposes a minimum salary of $120,000 pa for footballers
replaces Condition 23 for ship’s masters and gas or petroleum operators
Condition 26

replaces Conditions 23 for recruitment consultants on the STSOL and reduces the annual salary required to $80,000

Government relaxes visa rules to help farmers and football clubs

Visa rule changes will allow skilled foreign workers hired for seasonal work on farms to stay in Australia for up to four years.

Sponsored sportsmen and artists will also be able to get new eight-year visas, under the changes announced by the Immigration Minister David Coleman on Monday.

The changes to the Regional Occupation List, which build on the Working Holiday Maker visa program and the Seasonal Worker Program, are designed to target workforce shortages.

“We want Australians filling Australian jobs but when this isn’t possible action is needed to ensure farmers can continue to operate,” Mr Coleman said in a statement.
John Fairley, who runs a dairy farm in Picton, south-west of Sydney, told SBS News there was an issue but said it’s most acute in regional areas.

“We can find good enough labour around here because we’re close to a big city but if you’re (far) out west it would be a challenge finding skilled labour.”
Gracia Kusuma, from New South Wales Farmers, said changes will entice more skilled overseas workers to come and work in Australia.

“Previously these roles were only in the short-term shortage list, which means that the visa was only available for two years. Yes, it’s renewable, but for somebody who needs to uproot their entire family to a foreign country, it doesn’t provide the certainty, to give them the motivation to want to move.”

But some in the industry said limitations remain, particularly in areas such as horticulture, where there is a demand for less-skilled workers.
Dr Joanna Howe, from the University of Adelaide, co-authored a three-year-study into labour shortages in the horticultural sector.

“Today’s announcement doesn’t actually do anything to help those farmers because they need pickers, packers and graders.”

The study’s findings revealed that 40 per cent of farmers have not been able to recruit enough workers at some point over the past five years.
In January, the Morrison government loosened restrictions on two schemes that bring temporary farm workers into Australia, lifting the cap on the 462 visa for working backpackers from particular countries.

Under the latest changes, migrants hired for agriculture work will get four-year working visas but must remain in a specified region and work in some type of farming.

Sponsored artists and sportspeople, including footballers and tennis coaches, are also among eight professions added to the long-term skills list.

Mr Coleman said the changes are aimed at helping Australian football clubs attract elite international talent and develop Australia’s competitiveness on the international stage.

“These changes recognise Australia’s passion for sports and the arts,” Mr Coleman said.

“Having access to highly skilled professionals helps to develop local talent and facilitate skills and knowledge transfer.”


International education boom predicted, despite decline in Chinese students

International education boom predicted, despite decline in Chinese students

New analysis predicts Australian universities will continue to enjoy “booming” demand from international students despite a forecast drop from China, which dominates the market.

While Australia is predicted to this year overtake Britain and become second only to the US as the most popular destination for international students, the analysis notes the dangers of over-reliance on China and the opportunities to diversify into other countries.
The report, published at the end of last year by Austrade under a collaboration with global education platform Studyportals, said Australia is on track to reach an ambitious target of 720,000 international enrolments by 2025, with the country seen as offering safety, quality degrees and promising employment prospects.

The explosive growth of the international student numbers at universities over recent years has led to concerns about foreign students being treated as “cash cows”, the impact on education standards, and the potential for political complications stemming from the heavy reliance on China.

But, as government funding has been squeezed, the massive revenue from foreign students has become increasingly critical for the sector.
“Australia is showing booming interest and is continuing to consolidate its position as a strong international education player,” concluded the new report, which analysed interest in the programs aggregated on Studyportals platforms.
The report noted the dependence on Chinese numbers has emerged as a “not ideal” challenge. Chinese students currently account for 30 per cent of all students.

“However, as Chinese outbound student numbers began to level off around 2013, the current forecasts indicate that the number of college-aged students in China will decline by about 40 per cent between 2010 and 2025,” it said.

“While Australian universities are very reliant on China, where the numbers of college-aged students are flattening, we do see a strong potential in recruiting students from other key sending countries which are showing a strong interest in Australia.

“While their numbers can never fully replace the reliance on Chinese students, they can help universities protect against possible dips or slowdowns from Chinese students.”
The analysis found large spikes in interest from India, Sri Lanka, Britain, the US and Canada for Australian undergraduate courses.

It found the disciplines offering the greatest opportunities for growth were agriculture and forestry, medicine and health, hospitality, leisure and sports, engineering and technology, and applied sciences and professions.

The growth of the sector in Australia is challenged to an extent by increased competition from providers in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden and some Asian countries, including China.



Premier intervenes as international students’ English fails to make the grade

International students who speak little English are struggling to keep up with their peers at Australian universities, prompting the Victorian government to call for a review of entry requirements.

Premier Daniel Andrews has written a letter to the National Tertiary Education Union promising to take up the issue of English entry standards with the federal government.
Acting Minister for Higher Education James Merlino said the situation was unfair on international students and teachers.

“International students are a vital part of Victoria’s education system but it’s concerning that some students are enrolled in courses without adequate English language skills to complete them,” he said.

Academics, tutors and students say some international students are struggling to understand instructions in class, complete assignments and communicate with other students.
They say English standards have been set too low and can be bypassed by enrolling in bridging courses.

The National Tertiary Education Union’s Victorian president Nic Kimberley, who has tutored and lectured at many universities and works at RMIT, said many international students at Australian universities lacked the English proficiency needed to succeed.
“This is something that should concern everyone,” he said. “If they fail, they have to repeat and there is often a lot of shame. We don’t want to see international students fail.”

Mr Kimberley said he often received emails from international students begging him to increase their grade to a pass.
“It is incredibly stressful. As someone who teaches students, you do feel very guilty about it because of the high stakes.”

He said while many international students had a strong grasp of the English language, local students tried to avoid working with them for group projects.

The union is calling for a review of the English standards required for student visas and those set by universities for different courses. It’s also pushing for more English language support for international students.
Federal government rules require those wanting a student visa to achieve a score of at least 5.5 in the International English Language Testing System. This test gives students a score out of 9 for listening, reading, writing and speaking and most universities require students to receive a score of between 6 and 7.

But students can also receive a student visa with a score of 4.5 – which means they have a limited or modest grasp of English – if they enrol in a 20-week intensive English course before embarking on their university course.
While they must pass the course, they do not have to resit the international English test.

About one-quarter of all international students enter Australian universities via this pathway.

The peak body for overseas students, the Council of International Students Australia, is backing the calls for higher English entry standards.

The council’s national public relations officer, Manfred Mlestin, said while fewer international students would be accepted into courses, potentially eroding the country’s $31.9 billion a year international student industry, the quality of graduates would improve.

“If a student doesn’t understand what a teacher is saying, how can they finish their assignments?” he asks.
When John Chen* arrived in Melbourne on a student visa, he couldn’t order food in English.

“I would just use pointing, it was horrific,” he said.

The Chinese student spent 18 months at Trinity College in the hope of improving his language skills.

At university, he struggled to understand his lecturers and write essays, and barely spoke in tutorials. He switched from arts to science at the end of his first semester, hoping it would be easier.

While it wasn’t easier, he eventually improved his English by watching Youtube.
Chinese student Adam Zhao* said he failed a subject last semester because of his language difficulties.

He was working on a group assignment with three native English speakers who struggled to understand him.

While Adam has been in Australia for five years and completed two years of high school here, he still struggles with the language barrier.

His communication difficulties have affected his mental health, leaving him feeling isolated.

“I felt like I should be able to communicate, but I couldn’t,” he said.
A recent report by the Coroner considered the extreme stress experienced by some international students, highlighting the case of a 24-year-old Chinese international student who died in a fall that was later ruled to be suicide. He was believed to be suffering from depression and struggling to understand his English-language course.

Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson said Australian universities set English language requirements that were comparable to other world-leading education sectors.

“Many universities have standards for particular courses that go above the minimum standards set by the student visa,” she said.

She said students who passed bridging courses had the English skills required to complete a higher education qualification and succeed.

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan said it was the responsibility of universities to ensure that the students they enrol had the language skills to participate fully in their education.
“You can judge the quality of Australia’s sector by the number of international students that we attract,” he said.

*Names have been changed.

Student placements

Student placements
What is a vocational placement?
Further information
Contact us
Download the fact sheet:

Student placements (PDF 154.3KB)
Vocational placements provide students with the opportunity to apply the theory and skills they learned while studying in a professional workplace.

Under these arrangements students can gain the skills they need to transition successfully from study to work, while giving industry the opportunity to enrich student learning experiences and increase the number of work-ready graduates.

Vocational placements that meet the definition under the Fair Work Act 2009 (the FW Act) are lawfully unpaid. Students completing vocational placements are not considered to be employees and therefore are not entitled to the minimum wage nor other entitlements provided under the FW Act.

What is a vocational placement?
Under the FW Act, a vocational placement is lawfully unpaid if it meets all the following criteria:

There must be a placement. This can be arranged by the educational or training institution, or a student may initiate the placement with an individual business directly, in line with the requirements of their course.
There must be no entitlement to pay for the work the student undertakes. Where a student’s contract with the host business or organisation entitles them to receive money for the work they perform, the vocational placement will likely have turned into an employment relationship. Similarly, work arrangements covered by industrial awards or agreements are not vocational placements.
The placement must be done as a requirement of an education or training course. The placement must be a required component of the course as a whole, or of an individual subject or module of the course. It doesn’t matter whether that subject is compulsory or an elective chosen by the student.
The placement must be one that is approved. The institution delivering the course which provides for the placement must be authorised under an Australian, state or territory law or an administrative arrangement of the Commonwealth or a state or territory to do so. Courses offered at universities, TAFE colleges and schools (whether public or private) will all satisfy this requirement, as will bodies authorised to offer training courses under state or territory legislation.
When all of the above criteria are satisfied, hosts are not required to pay students entitlements under the FW Act. However, a host may elect to provide payment(s) at their discretion and under no obligation.

If the placement doesn’t meet all of the above criteria, it won’t be a vocational placement under the FW Act. However, this doesn’t automatically mean that the person is an employee and entitled to payment. The next step is to determine whether or not the person is in an employment relationship.

For more information on determining whether or not an employment relationship exists see our Unpaid Work Fact Sheet

Example 1
Katrina is in her 3rd year of a nursing degree. As part of her course, Katrina is required to complete a minimum of 4 weeks’ work experience with a registered hospital in her state in order to graduate. Katrina approaches her local hospital as they have a pre-existing relationship with her university and have regular student placements. The placement is authorised by her university, and Katrina understands it is a learning exercise and that she won’t be paid. As the arrangement meets the definition of a vocational placement under the FW Act, it can be unpaid.

Example 2
Jayne is in her final year of a mechanical engineering degree and has completed her formal class studies. As a requirement to graduate, Jayne has to organise professional engineering work experience at a business for 12 weeks. While Jayne has to organise the placement herself, the University has strict criteria about needing to assess an employer to ensure her vocational placement provides the relevant learning environment, and gives final sign-off on the placement. As this arrangement meets the definition of a vocational placement under the FW Act, it can be unpaid.

If the business decides to get Jayne to sign an employment contract and pay her wages for her work, it may turn the placement into an employment relationship. If an employment relationship is created, Jayne is entitled to at least the legal minimum rate of pay for the type of work she is performing.

Example 3
Mitchell is choosing his elective units for the following year’s study as part of his undergraduate degree. One of the electives is a 3 month unpaid placement organised by the university at a host business that provides a structured learning experience related to his degree. This placement counts as credit towards meeting his total course requirement. Because the elective forms part of his course, Mitchell’s placement meets the definition of a vocational placement under the FW Act. As this arrangement meets the definition of a vocational placement under the FW Act, it can be unpaid.

While the FW Act does not provide entitlements to students doing vocational placements, there may still be obligations in other legislation, such as those about work health and safety or discrimination that apply to them


Corrupt migration agents swindling ‘desperate’ customers face crackdown

A widespread problem of corrupt migration agents  poses a “high risk” threat, and may require greater investigative powers to combat, according to the Department of Home Affairs.

Disciplinary investigations by Home Affairs found some migration agents have swindled hundreds of thousands of dollars from desperate clients, while others regularly falsify documents to obtain visas which should never have been issued.

Newly released findings from the probes show eight migration agents were suspended or barred from the profession in the final two months of last year alone, and 34 faced penalties in 2018 for inappropriate conduct.

Assistant Home Affairs Minister Linda Reynolds said she would “not tolerate this kind of behaviour by migration agents who think it is acceptable to defraud clients”.

In one of the worst of the findings, Destiny Visa migration agent Maryam Shahi was found to have required a $50,000 “bond” to obtain a visitor visa for an Iranian citizen in November 2017 despite no bond being required nor requested by Home Affairs for the application

Ms Shahi later said she had sought the bond because another migration agent in Tehran had previously helped a client obtained a visitor visa, but that family had refused to return to Iran after the trip and applied for protection, harming his “livelihood”.

In another complaint against Ms Shahi, lodged in October last year, a client known as Ms EGS was also asked for a $30,000 deposit to “guarantee the grant of the visitor visa”.

No application was ever lodged with Home Affairs, and at the time of the complaint, Ms Shahi – who has since had her license cancelled – still owed Ms EGS $9000 of the bond deposit paid.

There were at least five other occasions, according to the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority, that Ms Shahi was paid for visa services – once more than $9000 – where no application was every received by Home Affairs and despite the “desperate circumstances” of her client


Overseas students: Raise the standards for all our students

It is no surprise that foreign students lack English language skills (The Age, 23/1). Australia’s minimum visa standards are lower than those in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom – not as Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson asserts, “comparable to other world-leading education sectors”.

The recent report by Bob Birrell and Katherine Letts at The Australian Population Research Institute – “Australia’s higher education overseas student industry: in a precarious state” – shows clearly how the Group of Eight universities lower their entry standards because they cannot afford to forgo the huge fees paid by overseas students, who now make up close to 40per cent of all new entrants. That changes the whole nature of university culture and the experience offered.

The Age’s report highlights the problems for foreign students struggling to cope, but ignores the impact on quality and fairness for those with an adequate grasp of English. Ask local university students about it and they will tell you how badly it affects the quality of their courses: lower expectations in class, lower standards in assessing grades, group assignments where the same grade is given to every student despite lack of participation or understanding, and limited student interaction and discussion. The solution is not just bridging courses; it is to raise the standards and insist on higher standards for all.

Taking students’ money under false pretences

I am a nurse working in aged care. I graduated from RMIT University in 2004 and worked for it for a year or so, assisting on a casual basis in laboratories with students in the city and at the Bundoora campus. The international students were enrolled at Bundoora and the classes were chaotic.

The students who could not understand English were frustrated, bored and disruptive. I became very disillusioned and felt the universities were just eager to take the money.

I have also witnessed the lot of people on student visas in the workplace. Many carers in the residential aged care sector are studying. Most study nursing but all face the same problem on graduation. Their English does not meet industry standards and they will not get a job here. As far as I can see, the tertiary institutions are taking money under false pretences.

Roger Hyland, Richmond

Pressure on students with grade 4-standard English

I am an EAL (English as an additional language) teacher who prepares some students for the International English Language Testing System. I totally agree that the current visa system of allowing overseas students to come to Australia to study at tertiary level with an IELTS score of 4.5 is wrong. This is perhaps about the equivalent of grade 4 English. We then allow these students to do a 20-week course and expect them to be able to study at tertiary level. It is ridiculous.

David Everard, Nunawading

Struggling to meet families’ ‘crippling expectations’

So international students are “failing to make the grade on language skills”. I have little sympathy for their plight. Proposed changes to assist them are based almost exclusively on an economic argument – they make a significant contribution to the Australian economy and we are willing to erode our standards to accommodate them. Coaching Chinese students taught me what an incredible and, at times, unrealistic work ethic they brought to their studies. Too often they struggled to meet the crippling expectations of their families.

Still, our students get it tough too. Many of them, having just completed a gruelling year of VCE, have to immediately front up to eight weeks of “summer school” in order to secure the score required for entrance into their tertiary course of choice. Instead of watering down our university standards, why don’t we make it mandatory for our overseas students to do a similar “summer school” before they commence their tertiary


Noel Butterfield, Montmorency