When the purpose of overseas study becomes immigration
by Feifei Guo
As an international student, it’s time for me to make a decision as to whether I should stay in Australia or go back to China. According to the immigration policy, international students who study full time for two years can apply for Skilled Migration, but I’m going to complete my master course within a year. If I don’t take another one, I will lose the chance to immigrate.
To be honest, Australia is such a natural wonder. Less pollution, the beautiful landscapes, and the cute koala all made me fall in love with this country. Although I enjoy my life here, however, I am still struggling because I miss my parents so much and I really want to go back.
Unlike me, many Chinese students made their decision to stay on the first day. And many of them see overseas study as an immigration ticket.
Last year, a study called What attracts mainland Chinese students to Australia higher education showed that the most important factors motivating Chinese students to study in Australia are future migration opportunities after graduation.
Lidia Nemitschenko, head of the International Student Support Unit (ISSU) of the University of Sydney, said, “Certainly I know that some students make a choice or subject because it’s going to help them to get permanent residency, but I don’t think that are majority students.”
However, the study has found that most of the Chinese students claimed that their program choice was based on the profession list of Skilled Migration, with around 87% of respondents currently studying an accounting program and 10% studying an information technology program.
According to the statistics released by the Australian Education International, China was the largest source of students in Australia in 2007 with 107,071 enrolments. The most popular field of study for Chinese students was Management and Commerce – including accounting, business and management and tourism.
In 2007, there were 40,975 enrolments for Management and Commerce with 10,569 enrolments in Accounting. Many Chinese students prefer to take business courses, because majors like Accounting have one of the highest vocational skills points as announced by the Department of Immigration.
“Of course I will apply for permanent residency once I graduate. I came here because the immigration policies are good for overseas students who want to apply for permanent residency,” said Weining Tao, a Chinese student who has now been studying accounting in Australia for a year and a half.
“Post-graduate level accounting classes in any university in Sydney are full of Chinese students. Those enrolled in Master of Professional Accounting, nine out of ten have plans to apply for Permanent Residency,” he said.
This is true. Australia’s skilled migration policy has a great impact on students’ choice of destination and program selection. A number of Chinese students spend huge money each year in Australia not only to improve English or to get a better university education. Future migration opportunity becomes one of the most significant reasons for Chinese students coming to Australia.
Danny Wang, a study-abroad adviser who works in Study Abroad Service Centre of Beijing Language and Culture University said, “Australia is one of the most popular destinations for Chinese students. Not only because the good quality of higher education attracts Chinese students, but also the immigration policies.”
“Almost every student who wants to study in Australia came to my office with their parents to ask questions about the relationship between their study choices and the immigration policy.”
“Some students don’t want to study in university and hope we can help them to find an easy and quick course to immigrate. In this situation, I suggest they take a course like cookery or hairdressing in TAFE. This is the quickest way to achieve the goal,” Danny said.
The question is raised here: Why are there many Chinese students planning to get Permanent Residency in Australia? After I talked to several Chinese students, I found three main reasons.
“You can’t deny that Australia has much a better living environment than China. Compared with Australia, the population in China is huge. Also Australia has a better social welfare system. Once you get permanent residency, life will become easier.”
“Even if you can’t find a job, the government will support you. Education loans, health care entitlement and the social security benefits all support your living. My parents are getting old; I want to organize them to come to Australia to enjoy their retirement. This country is just good for living,” Chinese student Weining Tao said.
Obviously, the environment and the social welfare system are the most important reason why Chinese students choose to stay. Almost every Chinese student is satisfied with the Australian lifestyle.
Secondly, the money exchange rate motivates Chinese students to stay. The tuition fees and living cost are expensive for international students, especially those are studying in big cities such as Sydney.
Some Chinese students see their overseas study as an investment. They need payback.
“I have already spent 300,000 RMB in Australia. My parents support me with all the costs in here. They worked very hard in China to support me. I don’t want to disappoint them,” said Bo Deng, a Chinese student who has been in Australia for two years, majoring in Accounting at the Holmes Institute Sydney. After he graduates, he will apply for temporary residency, then for permanent residency. He thinks it will be easier for him to get the education investment back if he works in Australia.
The last reason is simple. “If I become a citizen, I can travel around the world without applying for a visitor visa all the time,” said Xiao Peng, another Chinese student who is studying for the Master of Media Practice at the University of Sydney.
“Travelling around the world is my dream. If I can change to an Australian passport, it becomes much easier. Also I can get the right to travel to New Zealand and apply for a New Zealand visa.” Xiao Peng said she would apply for another one year course to satisfy the immigration requirement.
After the conversations with those Chinese students who are willing to immigrate, I realise there are lots benefits if I choose to stay.
In China, the large population determines the crucial competition for Chinese people. Too many of my friends are struggling to find a satisfying job. And too many people work extremely hard their whole lives and just want to afford a place to live.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, China is the third largest source country of immigration with 20,729 migrants in 2007 – 2008. There are increasing rates of migration to Australia in recent years, particularly students.
However, my purpose of overseas study is different. We face plenty of alternatives in our life
time, but I know this time I will not regret my decision.
When the purpose of overseas study becomes immigration
by Feifei Guo