The Australian government announced in March 2019 that it would be reducing the permanent migration cap from 190,000 to 160,000 places nationwide with 23,000 visa places dedicated to regional locations. However, after the 124% growth in granted regional visas in the first quarter of 2019, the Australian government announced that it would be increasing the total of regional migration visa places to 25,000 for the remaining of 2019.
The Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, David Coleman, announced from 16 November 2019, Gold Coast and Perth’s migration definition will be reclassified to regional city and subject to regional incentives to attract more migrants and international students to these locations. Any location outside of major Australia cities (Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane) will have access to the 25,000 dedicated regional visa places, priority processing and international graduates will also be eligible for an additional year in Australia on their post-study work visa.
However, to be eligible for this, international students are required to graduate with a bachelor’s degree or higher qualification from a registered regional campus and spend a minimum of two years living in any regional location. These adjustments in the Australian Population Plan are aimed at reducing migration demand in major cities and stimulate regional economic growth by providing incentives for migrants to study and work in regional locations around Australia.
“International education contributed $35 billion to the Australian economy in 2019, however only 3% of 690,000 international students were enrolled in regional Australia,” said Dan Tehan, the Australian Minister for Education. To stimulate student growth in regional campuses, the Australian government launched the Destination Australia Program to attract an estimated of 4,720 domestic and international students to study at regional campuses in 2020 with the incentive of $15,000 scholarships.
The Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities, highlighted the skill shortages and job vacancies in regional Australia, with an estimated 60,000 vacant job positions outside major Australian cities. “International students who study in regional Australia also rate their living and learning experience higher than students based in metropolitan centres”, said Minister Tehan. Minister Coleman has deployed Regional Outreach Officers to regional centres and cities to promote skilled migration initiatives and support any regional employers’ enquiry about skilled visa options.