November 9, 2012

 

Professor Lesleyanne Hawthorne writes:

Amid Australia’s ongoing doctor shortage, the health system risks losing dozens of Australian-trained, foreign-born doctors because of a shortage of intern places. The Australian Medical Students Association estimates the system needs 182 intern places to ensure all international students can finish their medical training and gain full registration as doctors.

These intern, (or post-graduate year one) places, are based in hospitals, which are run by the states. But the Commonwealth also bears some funding responsibility for medical training. The Commonwealth, state and territory health ministers are expected to discuss who should pay and potential solutions to the problem when they meet tomorrow in Perth.

Rise of international student migration

Over the past decade, international students have emerged as a prized and contested human capital resource. OECD and select Asian countries are expanding their international student flows, through global promotion strategies and regional migration programs, aligned with lower entry requirements, including for medical degrees.

International students have been immensely responsive to these migration options. In 1975, 600,000 international students were enrolled abroad, compared with 3.4 million in 2009. By 2025, it is predicted there will be 7.2 million international students studying globally.

A recent British Council survey of 153,000 international students confirmed opportunities for migration exert an extraordinary impact on the choice of study destination. While students sought a high quality, internationally recognised education, the scope to remain and work was found to “massively impact” both decisions and expectations.

 

In 1999, following the removal of a three-year eligibility bar, international students became immediately eligible to migrate to Australia. Within six years of the policy change, 52% of skilled migrants were selected onshore.

By 2010, 630,000 international students were enrolled in Australian courses (all fields and sectors). Of these, 18,487 were undertaking health degrees, including over 3,000 medical and 10,000 nursing students. International medical student graduates grew 223% from 1999 to 2009, compared with 52% growth in Australian domestic graduates.

International medical students

In 2009, the majority of international medical students were enrolled at

  • Monash,
  • Melbourne,
  • Queensland,
  • New South Wales and
  • Sydney universities.

Their source countries were highly diverse – most notably

  • Malaysia (1,134 students),
  • Singapore (577),
  • Canada (437),
  • the United States (84) and
  • Botswana (74), followed by
  • South Korea,
  • Brunei,
  • Hong Kong,
  • Indonesia and
  • Sri Lanka.

These international students achieve stellar rates of immediate employment and are highly attractive to local employers. As demonstrated by yet-to-be-published research conducted for the Medical Deans of Australia, 45% of international students plan to remain in Australia when they commence their studies. By their final year, 78% accept intern places (virtually all those who are not scholarship students sponsored by their home governments).

Australia’s Graduate Destination Survey from 2009-2011 reveals their employment outcomes to be near identical to those achieved by domestic students (99.6% working full-time at four months compared with 99.7%). The source country was almost irrelevant, with 100% of Canadian, US, Malaysian, Indonesian, Taiwanese, Norwegian and Botswanan students fully employed, compared with 97% from Singapore and 89% from China.

International medical graduates

As affirmed by the OECD, Australia has developed extraordinary reliance on international medical graduates (IMGs), who gain their qualifications overseas.

 

By 2006, 45% of Australian residents holding medical qualifications were overseas-born, including an estimated 25% who were overseas-qualified. The United Kingdom/Ireland, China, India, North Africa/ Middle East, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa and the Philippines were major sources of migration.

This diversification of supply has proven extremely challenging for Australia. The 2006 census shows just 53% of IMGs secured medical employment in Australia in their first five years of residence (across all immigration categories).

Doctors from English-speaking background countries moved seamlessly into work, while Commonwealth-Asian doctors fared reasonably. Outcomes were poor, by contrast, for many birthplace groups. Just 6% of doctors from China found medical employment within five years, along with 23% from Vietnam and 31% from Eastern Europe.

 

Employment access is significantly better for IMGs selected through the 457 visa temporary sponsored pathway. From 2005-06 to 2010-11 17,910 doctors were sponsored as temporary 457 visa migrants to pre-arranged jobs, with a 99% immediate employment rate.

From 2004-05 to 2010-11, an additional 2,790 IMGs were admitted through the permanent General Skilled Migration category. But not all passed the Australian Medical Council examinations, which are a requirement for unconditional registration in Australia. From 1978 to 2010, 82% of candidates passed the MCQ (the standard theoretical examination), typically on their first or second attempt, along with 85% of clinical candidates. But overall AMC completion rates were just 43%, since many choose not to persist with the process.

Large numbers of IMGs face significant barriers to securing professional registration. By contrast, international medical students face no impediments: they’re of prime workforce age (far younger than IMGs) and have self-funded to meet Australian domestic requirements.

Medical students’ future

We know that large numbers of international medical students wish to migrate to Australia – and access to intern places is critical for them to secure permanent resident status.

If Australia fails to retain these graduates, other countries will. Singapore, for instance, actively recruits in Australia, in a context where the nation’s fertility rate is incredibly low. New Zealand annually registers over 1,200 IMGs per year, but two-thirds will have left within two years. So there is major interest in attracting Australian-trained graduates.

If Australia is serious about retaining international medical students in the future, it’s vital to provide access to intern training places. While the students’ long-term intentions are unknown, it’s clear they have great potential to address Australian workforce shortages in the future.

 

** Lesleyanne Hawthorne is Professor of International Health Workforce, at the Australian Health Workforce Institute, University of Melbourne

This article was first published by The Conversation. A reminder to www.mystudyinaustralia.com readers that TC articles are freely available for republishing under a creative commons licence.

November 3, 2011

Norway, Australia and the Netherlands lead this year’s newly released Human Development Index (HDI) rankings, the annual United Nations measure of progress in human well-being, while the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Niger and Burundi are at the bottom.

 

The HDI, issued today by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), combines measures of life expectancy, literacy, school enrolment and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita. This year a record 187 countries and territories were measured – up from 169 last year.

 

Norway retained its top position from last year, ahead of Australia and then the Netherlands, while the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Germany and Sweden comprise the remainder of the top 10 in that order.

 

But when the HDI is adjusted for economic inequality, Australia becomes number 1 in the world with 0.979 over 1, and New Zealand #2 with 0.978 and Norway # 3 with 0.975.

 

While Australia becomes number one,  standings of some countries fall significantly. The US falls from 4 to 23, the Republic of Korea (ROK) from 15 to 32, and Israel from 17 to 25.

 

In the case of the US and Israel, their positions are affected by income inequality, although health care is also an influencing factor for the US, while education gaps between generations are the main reason for the ROK’s ranking change.

 

In contrast, other countries’ standings improve after the HDI has been adjusted for inequality. Sweden jumps from 10 to five, Denmark from 16 to 12, and Slovenia rises from 21 to 14.

 

“The inequality-adjusted Human Development Index helps us assess better the levels of development for all segments of society, rather than for just the mythical ‘average’ person,” said Milorad Kovacevic, chief statistician for the Human Development Report that accompanies the index.

 

“We consider health and education distribution to be just as important in this equation as income, and the data show great inequities in many countries.”

 

The report, Sustainability and Equity: A Better Future for All, notes income distribution has worsened in most of the world and reveals Latin America has the largest income inequality, although it is more equitable than sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia in life expectancy and schooling.

 

The report also shows that countries at the bottom of the list still suffer from inadequate incomes, limited schooling opportunities and low expectancy rates due to preventable diseases such as malaria and AIDS.

 

The report stresses that a lot of the problems encountered by countries with low rankings are worsened by armed conflicts and its devastating consequences. In the DRC, the country with the lowest ranking, more than three million people died from warfare and conflict related illnesses.

 

Seven countries – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Marshall Islands, Monaco, Nauru, San Marino, Somalia and Tuvalu – were not included this year because of a lack of data.

 

UNDP today also released its related Gender Inequality Index, which puts various European countries at the forefront of gender equality. Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark and Switzerland head the rankings, followed by Finland, Norway and Germany.

 

That index takes into account indicators on reproductive health, schooling years, government representation and participation in the labour market. Yemen ranks as the least equitable, followed by Chad, Niger, Mali, the DRC and Afghanistan. In the case of Yemen, just 7.6 per cent of women have secondary education, 0.7 per cent of legislature seats are occupied by women and only 20 per cent of working-age women have paid jobs.

 

In addition, the report highlights regional differences which cause gender disparities. In sub-Saharan Africa, gender gaps arise in education and are worsened by high maternal mortality and adolescent fertility rates. In contrast, in South Asia, gender inequality is mainly due to women lagging behind men in parliamentary representation and labour force participation.

 

Source:

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=40290&Cr=human+development&Cr1=

July 8, 2010

 

 

From 1 July 2010 DIAC require overseas students to obtain OSHC for the proposed duration of their Student visa.

Where a student will be studying at more than one education provider, the requirement remains that the student must maintain health insurance for the duration of their visa. There cannot be a gap in the OSHC coverage.

If a student has already obtained OSHC for a 12 month period before 1 July they will not be asked to obtain further insurance. They will be expected to renew their policy when it expires.

Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is intended to assist international students to meet the costs of medical and hospital care that they may need while in Australia.

A student visa can be granted up to the maximum duration outlined below:

Visa duration is 10 months or less – The visa will usually be granted up to one month longer than the duration of the course.

Visa duration is longer than 10 Months – The visa will usually be granted up to two months longer that the duration of the course.

Visa duration is longer than 10 Months and finishing at the end of the Australian academic year (October – December) – The visa will usually be granted up to March 15 of the following year.

For all students submitting applications from July onwards, we will calculate the visa length and issue a statement of fees which reflects an OSHC amount as per the information above.

The start date for the OSHC will be from the course commencement date

To assist students who are now preparing to make fees payment and request their CoE’s it is advised that you contact the relevant Education Counsellor to obtain a revised statement showing the correct OSHC fees. Please ensure that this is requested prior to the student preparing their fees payment through TT or Bank Draft.

In the case where payment is received without the additional OSHC amount, the outstanding fees will be required prior to the CoE being issued

IEAA help students to get their OSHC free of any additional service charge . Should you have any question, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Additional information can be found attached or at http://www.immi.gov.au/students/_pdf/oshc-faq.pdf