The Sydney Morning Herald reported recently that the ‘Nepal market’ was worth $2.6 billion to Australia in 2018-19, up from $1.6 billion the previous year. Nepal is the third biggest source of international students in Australia accounting for 7% of them.
“My best guess is that a majority of Nepalese students in Australia are here simply for work, hoping to make enough money in Australia both to pay off their tuition loans and return some extra to their families back in Nepal,” Salvatore Babones at the Centre for Independent Studies of the University of Sydney told the Herald.
Countries like Australia, Canada, Japan, and increasingly the UK have deliberately left their immigration door slightly ajar to address their temporary labour shortage by giving out student visas, without a drastic liberalisation of their strict immigration policies. A bonus is the income that they earn from student fees.
International students are an excellent business proposition. The Danish Society of Engineers in Copenhagen this week asked the government to drop the cap on foreign graduates and allow them to work after completing studies to fill a crippling shortage of engineers.
Many Nepali students interviewed for this report admitted that getting a student visa was a one-way ticket out of Nepal. Indeed, the push-factors are strong: erratic and low quality instruction in colleges, and the lack of job prospects.
Whereas abroad, students get better education and exposure, earn some money on the side because the host governments allow them to work a limited hours per week, and also because of the possibility of staying on.
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