British vice-chancellor ‘forced out of Australia’ by visa reforms

Former Heriot-Watt principal Steve Chapman says he will have to leave Edith Cowan University in 2020

June 27, 2017
Australia visa

A UK-born vice-chancellor has said that he will be forced out of his job in Australia by new visa restrictions in the country.

Steve Chapman, the former principal of Heriot-Watt University, started work at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia in April 2015 on a four-year 457 visa, which could be extended for another four years and allowed the holder to apply for permanent residency.

But The Australian reported that Professor Chapman has now been told that his first visa, which he would have been able to renew next year, will be replaced with a visa for just two years.

“That means I will have to leave the country in June 2020. I’ve bought a house, I’ve made a commitment to Australia. I’m shocked and pretty devastated,” Professor Chapman told the paper. “I have a university that wants to keep me. I have strategic plan that I can’t even complete now.”

The visa restrictions, announced in April by Malcolm Turnbull, the prime minister, have been opposed by universities and have been seen as a sign of a global trend towards “more contested and problematic” academic mobility.

Professor Chapman told The Australian that he was also struggling to fill the post of deputy vice-chancellor (research) because he could offer only a two-year visa for the position, with no path to permanent residency.

Belinda Robinson, the chief executive of Universities Australia, said that her organisation had been lobbying ministers to change their plans. She said that she hoped that vice-chancellors and other senior academics would soon be eligible for four-year visas again.

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