- First six regional bursary recipients arrive in Geraldton
- Part of a McGowan Government initiative to bring international students back to regional WA
- Students study in skills shortage areas and assisted to find part time work
- Responds to feedback from industry leaders at Perth and regional skills summits
Central Regional TAFE has welcomed the first group of international students to Geraldton following their success in the inaugural round of the McGowan Government’s regional bursaries for TAFE international students.
The McGowan Government initiative to attract international students to live, work and study at regional TAFE colleges in Western Australia provides a $5,000 bursary for up to 200 students to train at the State’s regional TAFE colleges.
International Education Minister David Templeman and Training Minister Simone McGurk today took the opportunity to meet the first six bursary recipients to arrive in Geraldton to study courses in early childhood education and care, information technology, aquaculture, and commercial cookery. They have come from the Philippines, Hong Kong, Bhutan, Indonesia and Italy.
The two-year pilot started on 1 January 2023 as part of a $2.4 million Regional TAFE International Student Strategy announced by the McGowan Government in the 2022-2023 State Budget.
Interest in the program has been strong with a total of 22 international students already receiving bursaries to study at TAFE campuses in Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Bunbury and Broome in Semester 1, 2023.
The majority of bursary students are anticipated to commence in Semester 2, 2023 due to current Commonwealth visa processing timeframes.
The bursaries are offered for selected courses targeting areas of local skills shortage, such as aged and disability care, childcare, and hospitality and tourism, at campuses across the regional TAFE colleges: North Regional TAFE, Central Regional TAFE and South Regional TAFE.
The students are also supported to find part-time work and accommodation and on graduation may be able to access migration pathways to extend their stay in Australia.
The initiative responds to ideas raised by industry leaders through the Perth and Regional Skills Summits, which emphasised the need for innovative solutions to address skills shortages and support regional industries.
The bursaries are supported by marketing activities including agent familiarisation tours to showcase regional WA to recruit international students for the two-year pilot program.
In November 2022, TAFE International Western Australia (TIWA) hosted the first agent familiarisation tour, showcasing Geraldton, Broome and Albany and the bursary program to agents across the globe, including key markets of Italy, Brazil, the Philippines, Japan, Taiwan, Colombia, Korea, Sweden and Mauritius.
A second tour showcasing further regional locations is planned for mid-2023.
As stated by International Education Minister David Templeman:
“The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the numbers of backpacker and student visa holders in regional Western Australia.
“International students make an important contribution to regional communities, including as contributors to the local workforce while studying.
“It is great to see our extensive promotion of this opportunity and our regional communities to international markets is paying off with the arrival of the first international students supported through the bursaries.”
As stated by Training Minister Simone McGurk:
“Attracting international students back to Western Australia’s regional communities was identified as an important workforce priority by industry leaders at the Perth and regional Skills Summits.
“These bursaries target areas impacted by skills shortages, and are a centrepiece of the initiatives identified by the McGowan Government to attract international students back to regional WA.
“TAFEs are part of the fabric of our regional communities and studying at one of the campuses is a great way for international students to tap into the support they need to live, train, work and possibly even access a migration pathway to stay in regional WA.”