The changes, which come into effect on November 16, will leave the eastern state capitals of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane as the only cities not classified as regional for migration purposes, and provide further clarity on several announcements made from March’s Planning for Australia’s Future Population document.
“I can’t over-emphasise how important education is to our community and our regional economy”
“We’re using our migration program to back our regions to grow to take the population pressure off our major capital cities and by supporting strong regions we’re creating an even stronger economy for Australia,” said prime minister Scott Morrison.
“These changes will boost the appeal for so many cities and regional centres that are looking to grow their population to support local services like schools and health care, while attracting new workers and students, meaning more jobs and more investment.”
The inclusion of Perth and the Gold Coast as regional for migration purposes has been seen as a win by the Western Australian and Queensland international education sectors, respectively, after a prolonged period of lobbying by state and local governments, as well as stakeholders.
“It’s a game-changer; its news we’ve been waiting [to hear] for two years,” said StudyPerth chief executive Phil Payne.
“It puts us on a level playing field with other cities within Australia and creates another reason for international students to use WA to live, study and further their careers.”
The decision to include Perth also comes after the WA government chose to exclude its state capital from the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme in 2017.
Payne told The PIE News that while the number actually impacted by the 2017 decision was quite small, international students had begun to consider the state as less welcoming.
“This policy change will restore, in the eyes of international students, their families and their agents, the idea that Perth is open for business, that it is a great place with great opportunities,” he said.
Study Gold Coast chief executive Alfred Slogrove meanwhile said he was “thrilled that good sense has prevailed”.
“It puts us on a level playing field with other cities within Australia”
“I can’t over-emphasise how important education is to our community and our regional economy,” he said.
“The Gold Coast… will have greater access to a more highly skilled and diversified workforce while further enriching the cultural fabric of our society.”
The announcements follow over a year of political rhetoric around boosting the number of temporary migrants, including international students, in regional Australia, and continues the federal government’s approach to providing incentives over enforcements.
While graduates in Perth and the Gold Coast will now receive an additional year of PSW, the government also announced plans to provide a further two years for those in Darwin and other regional centres and areas, allowing PhD graduates up to six years in total.
Caroline Perkins, executive director of the Regional Universities Network, told The PIE the changes, which will have the most impact on her members, will help to boost the regional offering.
“We welcome the fact that there’s going to be an additional two years for international students studying in most of the RUN network regional campuses,” she said.
“We look forward to seeing the impact of the policy in due course.”
Despite receiving regional classification for migration purposes, however, all cities other than Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne will still not be entitled to the Destination Australia scholarships, as their eligibility is linked to the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ definition of remoteness areas.
Only areas classified as “Inner Regional Australia” to “Very Remote Australia” remain eligible for Destination Australia, which appears to place Darwin as the only capital city of a state or territory able to access for both the scholarship scheme and an additional two years of PSW.
As well as the reclassification of cities and provisions, the Australian government also announced it would up the number of visas set aside for regional migration by 2,000 to 25,000 and would provide priority processing for those major cities, other than Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Cities with additional year of PSWR:
- Gold Coast
- Sunshine Coast Canberra Newcastle/Lake Macquarie
- Wollongong/Illawarra Geelong