20 December 2008

Changes to Skilled Migration Processing

On the 17th of December, the Australian government announced changes to the way applications for skilled migration visas are handled. Occupations on the new critical skills list will be fast-tracked, while other occupations on the Migration Occupations in Demand (MODL) list will proceed more slowly.

The press has been quick to pick up the fact that cooks, and hairdressers are not on the critical skills list. The changes will become effective on 1 January 2009, so any students currently studying cookery or hairdressing courses as a short-cut to permanent residence may find themselves heading back home in 2009. The government is maintaining the target of 133 500 places for skilled migrants in 2008-9, but does not guarantee that many migrants will actually be allowed visas.

While the change is something of a shock for students part way through their courses, the economic situation in Australia has changed radically in the second half of 2008 and a reduction in the number of skilled migrants is almost inevitable. Numbers have risen very quickly since 1996-7, when only 24,000 people migrated to Australia in the Skilled migration program. In 2007-2008 the number was just over 100,000. The economic situation will hit students and the skilled migration program. Already, students are finding it more difficult to find part time work. Retailers are finding it tough, with some stores, such as Portmans, a women's fashion store, advertising 70% off some stock today. Some stores have been brought their traditional Boxing Day discounts forward a week to try to encourage people to buy. Normally prices don't budge until the 24th of December at the earliest and I haven't seen such early, extreme discounting in recent years. I even doubt whether it happened in 1990 or 1991, in the depths of recession.

One thing we should remember from 1990 & 1991 was that immigration became unpopular as unemployment in Australia rose. Even though immigration became unpopular, the government didn't shut down the skilled migration program completely. If unemployment rises in 2009, and all the indications are that it will, there will come a time when the public will lose patience with skilled migrants driving taxis as locals are unable to find work, even as taxi drivers. To pre-empt the shift in public opinion, the government has re-adjusted the migration system to better ensure skilled migrants will be able to find work in their area of skill.

My prediction is that the MODL list will be either totally superseded by the "critical demand" list or shortened next year to only include professions which are "recession-proof", professions like those on the critical demand list such as medical professionals and plumbers. Lets face it, if you're plumbing is leaking you'll get it fixed, even if takes your last dollar.

23 May 2008

Student Jobs and Finances

How much is the basic pay of a student who is doing a part time job?

Ahmad: The FairPay Commission has set $12.5 per hour as the minimum wage.

Rajan added:

We also know that a lot small business owners take advantage of overseas students and lure them into cash in hand jobs where they pay them about $8 per hour or so. It is better to look for a job which sticks to the Government Regulations.

You can't do much about it if your cash in hand employer decides not to pay you at all.

How much time it would take to find a job after reaching Australia(by student visa)?

Ahmad: Depends on how hard you look...

Q: Is there any placement agencies who assist to find part time jobs?

Ahmad: Yes. The majority of job-searches are done online though.

Q: Is it possible to earn some money during the course by doing part time jobs? Is it possible to save at least 300AUD per month?

Ahmad: Yes. 20 hours of work a week is allowed during semesters...How much you can actually work depends on your timetable.

Q:Is it possible to save at least 300 AUD per month?

Ahmad: If you are looking at paying your fee, living expenses and still having $200 left, I would say probably not.

You should be able to break even and perhaps save some money provided you live in relatively cheap accommodation, work a substantial portion of the 20 hours allowed, and don't spend extravagantly.

Michelle: Earning money to pay full fees and living costs by working 20 hours per week during semester is very unusual & probably not feasible.

Ahmad & Rajan have been posting answers to questions in the Melbourne Community on orkut. Reproduced with permission.

08 May 2008

How to find a house to rent for six people

I received the following email yesterday:

Hi, my name is S. B. I saw the blog and understand that you have some knowledge about renting houses just walking distance from the Caulfield campus? I am going over at the end of June 2008 and I am in need of a big house. There are at least 6 of us. Is it possible if you could kindly provide any information to us regarding any house with 5 or more rooms available? We prefer taking the whole house. Your help would be much appreciated.

From Michelle:
Its good to hear you're getting organised early, by getting together a group who will live together. Its more difficult to actually rent a house before you get here, and you should be careful to thoroughly inspect any house before renting it. Beware that some of the rental accommodation in Melbourne is not very well maintained.

If you are sure that you want to live within walking distance of Caulfield campus, you will have only a limited number of houses available to rent. You will have many more accommodation options if you are prepared to take a train or tram, or cycle to the University. I have to admit the transport would be expensive, at $28 for a week if you confine yourself to "Zone 1", but rents can be cheaper a little further from the city centre. Rents for a 4 bedroom house within walking distance of the campus in Caulfield and Malvern are advertised as high as $1000 per month, but search more widely down the train line in Carnegie, Murrumbeena, Hughesdale or Oakleigh and you could find a house like this one for only $450 per week.

One thing many students do to reduce costs is share a room, and there are a few houses and flats set up for high density student living (for example, see this ad on Looking through the rental advertisements on and I can see that there are very few houses for rent with more than 4 bedrooms. To fit 5 people, you may have to rent a 3 or 4 bedroom house, and convert a living room or garage to living space, or share bedrooms. Many 3 or 4 bedroom houses will have a large living room (with chairs, TV etc) which some people convert to 2 bedrooms.

While you can contact advertisers on websites like and before you arrive, I don't think you will get very far. My suggestion is that one or two of you arrive a couple of weeks early to find a house for the rest of you to live.

I hope this advice proves useful.

30 March 2008

Desalination Would Cost Too Much

Melbourne has been under permanent water restrictions for nearly two years. With a rising population, the restrictions are unlikely to lift. Currently, water can be used freely for drinking, washing, cooking and other inside-the-house uses, but watering of gardens is severely restricted. The Victorian state government is now planning to introduce more water pipelines and a desalination plant to guarantee the future water supply.

The government's current plans are just a knee-jerk reaction. We may be low on water, but that's no reason to introduce a costly and inefficient desalination plant. Surely it would be more efficient to pipe recycled water for large industrial users such as our La Trobe Valley power plants.

Recycled water is used for drinking in other parts of the world, in fact I've drunk it myself while living in London. On the world's driest continent I think we can learn to drink recycled water, just as we have learned to sweep our driveways rather than hosing them down.

Comment posted by Michelle at the age blog PotteringBy

24 February 2008

Student Visa or Work permit?

An anonymous correspondent asked...
Hi guyzz..
I'm planning to migrate to Australia..currently I'm working in Dubai. Can you please advise me whether I should come on a student visa or a work permit?

Rajan replied:
If you are planning to migrate then why would you consider student visa? If you have option to come on work visa or on permanent basis please use that.

reproduced from the Orkut Melbourne Community with permission from Rajan.

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