On Friday, the 7th of May, the Australian Government announced its intention to expand working rights for temporary visa holders:
- Student visa holders to increase their working hours a week from 20 to 40 if they work in the hospitality and tourism sectors.
- Temporary visa holders, including students able to move to the 408 Covid-19 Emergency Visa and work full-time for up to 12 months, if they work or intend to work in the tourism and hospitality sectors.
These measures were announced to support the tourism and hospitality sectors, which are currently suffering from labour shortages.
Go Study Australia’s views
Go Study Australia is thrilled that student visa holders may have their working rights expanded.
This is something we have been actively lobbying for on behalf of our students for over 10 years – as we fully appreciate that only working 20 hours a week makes living the full Aussie experience challenging for many people.
Regarding the 408 visas, we encourage people to fully understand their rights and obligations and to seek advice from your migration agents. There are many implications that may impact a student’s future journey in Australia if they take on a 408 visa, including possible non-genuine assessment, no further stay conditions and more.
We outline the pros, cons and other considerations around the 408 visas in this article: https://www.gostudy.com.au/student-visa-subclass-408-faqs/
Education Industry Effects
There are broader considerations about how these visa changes will affect the international education industry in Australia. Right now, hundreds of great colleges are at risk of closure as they have no new students arriving from overseas.
It is anticipated that some people will apply for the 408 visas instead of studying, placing further strain on the already suffering international education providers. These effects will include:
- College closures, as providers see a reduced number of enrolments from students currently in Australia, and no opportunity to receive new students from overseas.
- Current students being at risk of being left ‘stranded’ part way through their course as colleges close.
- Displaced students dealing with administrative chaos resulting from college closures – including problems with obtaining transcripts, reconciling tuition fees, and transferring to alternative providers.
- Some schools may decrease their services, or increase their fees as a response to lower student numbers, jeopardizing quality student experiences and outcomes.
- The closure of colleges may mean Australia as a whole will not have enough providers to handle the post-pandemic influx of students after borders re-open. When there is too much demand, and not enough supply, you see a rise in prices, and compromises on quality in delivery.
- The 408 visa may result in students risking being a ‘non-genuine’ when they try and move back to a student visa (as they have effectively said they would rather work than study).
On the 15th of May, Go Study’s General Manager, Simon Costain expressed these and other concerns on a public social media forum (LinkedIn) for industry members to consider and urged anyone involved to contact the Immigration Minister to express their individual views. We believe this legislation is flawed, as it puts students at risk of choosing an option that may close off their intended pathway, while also adding increased pressure to colleges that are already in financial distress.
Mr. Costain applauded the decision to increase working rights for students and called for a sensible discussion about the broader effects of the 408 visa. During this period, many other education professionals also wrote to the minister and expressed their concerns.
Social Media Reactions
Upon reading Mr Costain’s posts, administrators of certain backpacker focused Facebook groups took the words of Mr Costain and misinterpreted them as trying to limit the ability of temporary visa holders to support themselves. They also attempted to paint Go Study in a negative light by expressing concern about the potential closure of schools resulting from a continued loss of students.
These backpacker posters called for their wider community, most of whom have never been Go Study clients, to leave a series of 1-star reviews across various digital platforms. There was a combination of real and fake social profiles involved in spreading this message around other community groups.
Go Study has since received a number of negative and spiteful reviews from people who have never been our clients or accessed our services
These calls to discredit Go Study were made without attempts to clarify/understand the statements, and were made within private groups where Go Study had no opportunity to reply.
It is disappointing and heartbreaking that Go Study’s outstanding reputation for helping over 30,000 students come to Australia over the last 14 years has been the victim of an unfair and unjustified smear campaign.
Relevant facts to help the public make up their own mind
- Go Study’s advice and services are 100% free, and we assist anyone who requests help, regardless of whether they become a student or not.
- Over 30,000 people have successfully used Go Study’s free service to navigate the complex education system, and reach their dreams in Australia – most of these clients have come from referrals and word of mouth.
- Go Study represents over 300 colleges and universities, and our team has a unique and deep knowledge of colleges, outcomes, qualities, features and other aspects to help students find the right experience for them. We share our knowledge, and support students for free. We provide incredible value to those looking for help to study, live, work and stay in Australia.
- Go Study has received over 3000 5-star reviews across our various social media platforms. Our commitment to integrity, honest and transparent operations is reflected in the comments of our clients.
- Our team of 80 staff around the world work tirelessly to hold colleges accountable to delivering the best experience possible, and we mediate concerns on behalf of students when issues arise.
- Go Study was a founding member of ISEAA, the International Student Education Agents Association which promotes best practice and high ethics for all education agents, and brings numerous issues of student welfare to the Government’s attention.
- Go Study staff have provided critical support for students pre- and post-covid, including:
- Taking numerous calls from students distressed at midnight, or early morning and guiding them through crisis. Our staff become the friend, or ‘big brother’ for so many people who are lost and challenged during their time in Australia.
- Finding emergency accommodation for students in need.
- Providing free information and advice during critical global updates, and interpreting what this means for students.
- Negotiating discounts and student support from colleges on behalf of students.
- Providing a free jobs newsletter and connecting tens of thousands of prospective employees to jobs.
- Go Study was a foundational partner in starting the first ever NSW international student hub, which now supports thousands of international students through issues regarding work rights, accommodation rights, job opportunities, social equity and more. Go Study provided significant resources to allow this hub to form as we believe the Australian experience should be transformational.
- Free food delivery programs – In May 2021, our Melbourne office will commence offering 1000 free meals a week to students in a deal we have been negotiating for many months. Previously, during Covid-19, we advised students and temporary visa holders in need of numerous places to access free food and other resources.
- We donated to the NSW bushfire recovery program, and also supplied staff and students as volunteers for wildlife rescue.
- Go Study hosts personal empowerment workshops, job sessions, social networking events, professional coaching for anyone regardless of if you are a student or not.
- Ongoing support and advocacy for student rights including increased work hours, concessions for public transport, mediation with schools not delivering on promises.
- And so much more.
Go Study is proud to offer these services, and a range of other support structures for working holidaymakers, students and new migrants. We offer these to ensure temporary visa holders have a successful experience in Australia, and in doing so, we hope the community will trust us and choose us when it is time to decide on where to enrol and how to ensure their studies are successful.
It’s true that not all students need an education agent to enrol in courses, but 90% of prospective students rely on professional services like Go Study‘s to ensure they make the best decisions possible and get all the information they need. The reality is there is no reason not to use a professional company that can advise you on your options, and support you through the many challenges of studying, living and working in Australia. We offer these services for free, and courses are not cheaper if you enrol directly through a college.
We are paid by the colleges to provide marketing, recruitment, student support, community support and more. We offer far more than just enrolment services. It costs a student nothing to use us, but the value we bring cannot be measured.
We believe it is our responsibility to voice an objection to a policy that puts our students and partner colleges at risk. We invite you, and your fellow community members to think for yourself, and not react to the angry yells, or biased opinions of those who interpret our concern for Australia’s struggling education sector as some sort of protectionist greed.
We are here to support all those who want to live, work and study in Australia.
We look forward to supporting your never-ending journey of education and development.