Australian universities offer courses that are in demand across industries

Professor Venessa Lemm – Executive Dean, Faculty of Arts and Education, Deakin University, Australia, discusses the increasing opportunities for Indian students in the post-pandemic era
How has Australia been reaching out to international students in the post-pandemic phase?
Australia has been a popular destination for students globally. However, during the pandemic, the country closed its borders and restricted students’ entry. The Australian government has ushered in a new era of engagement with India across all fronts in the post-pandemic phase and it started with the signing of the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (ECTA) between the two countries. Building on Education trade, ECTA will facilitate extending the post-study work rights for STEM graduates. The recent announcement of the setting up of an education task force by the prime ministers of both the countries will see the ECTA help facilitate the recognition of qualifications, licensing, and registration procedures between professional services bodies that will be beneficial for the students.
The Australian government also provided visa fee waivers for students flying into Australia between January 19 to March 19, 2022. Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) Visa holders who were unable to travel to Australia amid Covid-19 restrictions were also eligible to apply for a replacement visa. Both current and former visa holders could apply for the same duration as proposed in the original guidelines. The Australian government has also proposed to increase the stay time for Temporary Graduate Visa holders from 2 to 3 years and VET (Vocational Education and Training) field graduates to 2 years.
Most importantly, the government has agreed to increase part-time work hours to allow students to support their education and gain experience that helps them in their job search. It is working on a proposal to increase part-time work hours from 20 hours per week to 40 hours per week. According to the Australian Trade and Investment Commission, Indian students formed the highest portion of foreign students in 2022. As of March 2022, over 25,000 Indian students had reached Australian shores to begin or resume study since the opening of the borders in November last year.
What has been your university’s role in welcoming Indian students back on campus?
Deakin University has had a strong association with India that stretches back for more than 28 years. The university has observed that 37% of the international cohort comes from India, which is more than any other country in the world. The university also works closely with prospective students and families throughout their journey. They also make sure that their students feel at home by celebrating all the major festivals like Diwali on campus.
Which are some of the new programmes that would be relevant to students’ careers in the coming years? Will STEM courses continue to gain precedence?
Australian universities offer courses that are in demand across industries. Recently, Australia has announced to start of a dual degree programme with India that will allow students to do one or two-year degrees in these countries. One of the programmes that have gained significant traction among students from India after the pandemic and will continue in the coming years is a Master’s in Public Health, the pandemic reinforced the need for the study of Epidemiology and we see a lot of interest among students looking to specialise in it.
Programmes in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, cyber security, and data analytics that have a focus on practical and project-based learning will continue to gain learners.
STEM courses are not going anywhere and are here to stay, even this year the top courses for students especially at the UG level are Computer Science and Software Engineering. There is also increasing demand in Australia for a skilled workforce in engineering, science and IT. In addition, the length of stay for a bachelor’s degree graduate with first-class honours is extended from two to three years post-study in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics including Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sectors.
How has your Faculty of Arts and Education addressed the issue of Non-STEM subjects not holding centre stage?
Australia as a country places a lot of importance on mental health and developing infrastructure to support people facing mental health issues, so courses like Psychology remain quite popular among Indian students.
Amidst the many challenges we face, the knowledge and skills gained from the humanities and social sciences are more important than ever. Employers in Australia and abroad consistently rate these skills highly and studying arts is engaging, thought-provoking and life changing. We are constantly innovating to come up with new courses that students will not find anywhere else to pique their interest in Arts and education. Our Master of Humanitarian Assistance and Bachelor of Criminology/Bachelor of Cyber Security are unique to Deakin. We also provide our BA students the opportunity to combine their arts degree with science, IT, law or commerce degree to expand their thinking and broaden their capabilities.
Which are some of the varied research programmes at your university?
Australia has a robust research ecosystem that emphasises solving issues affecting common people. If we talk about scientific research, Australia contributes 2.7% to the world’s total research output. Similarly, the country provides immense opportunities for research in humanities and social sciences.
Deakin University has organised its research ecosystem into five impact themes and brings together different schools of thinking that help in solving some of the most complex global challenges. This application of shared knowledge keeps people at the centre of the research. They have a strategic focus on developing tangible outcomes for society, culture and the economy.
What are some of the Australian scholarships on offer this year and how can students avail them?
Australia provides many scholarships to foreign students with the aim to ease their financial burden. Recently, it has announced the ‘Maitri Scholars Program’ for Indian students. Under the program, it will provide over USD 11 million for four years to support students earning a degree from its universities. Besides, there are numerous grants and bursaries available for international students with which they can support their education. Not only the government, but also corporations, universities and some private organisations provide financial assistance to students.
Some famous scholarships include Australia Awards Scholarships (AAS) for bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral courses, Endeavour PG Scholarship Award, International PG Research Scholarship Award, Indo-Australia S&T Visiting Fellowship Programme, Australia-India Strategic Research Fund, and Australia International Postgraduate Research Scholarships (IPRS). Many scholarships by prominent universities are also popular such as the Deakin University’s Vice-Chancellor’s Academic Excellence Scholarship among others.

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