The SOP is a much more important document than most students realize. The SOP is used, among other things, by the VOB (Visa Officer B) who have been assigned decision-making duties by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) to assess a candidate’s application for a student visa to study in Australia. One of the biggest concerns of the VOB is to ensure that the student visa is not being used to circumvent Australian migration law i.e., students are not using this visa to settle permanently in Australia.
There are many areas of the SOP in which students go wrong. This blog article will attempt to identify these areas and suggest remedial action if your SOP falls short in any of the areas mentioned below.
Demonstrating that you have made an informed choice in Choosing Australia
This section is probably the worst researched section of most of the thousands of SOPs I have read and edited in my career. I regularly read very general statements like ‘Australia has a very advanced education system’ or ‘the educational system in Australia is focused on practical education and not theoretical like India’s’. These statements do not demonstrate the fact that you have thoroughly researched Australian education. While writing about the quality of Australian education, talk about global indicators like PISA or the Education Index of UNDP’s Human Development Index. You can also talk about QS’s System Strength ranking in which Australia is consistently ranked in the top 5, or even the OECD education indices.
Other general statements I read often in SOPs are ‘Australia is a peaceful country’. Here there are many global indicators you can write about too like the Global Peace Index by IEP or the World Happiness Report.
In conclusion, it is important to realize that the SOP is a very important part of the application and it must demonstrate that you have done your homework before choosing Australia, a particular College or university and a particular course.
Demonstrating your Ties to India
Most students will talk about their families (as they should) but not mention property or businesses that they stand to inherit. Inheritable properties and businesses (only if they are aligned with your proposed field of study in Australia) are a major reason to return to the home country and this will be taken into consideration by the VOB.
Many students also do not discuss their community ties in the SOP. As we all know, community ties in India are very strong due to the nature of Indian culture and tradition. Finally, most students (especially Master’s students) are not able to demonstrate professional ties. It helps if you have a document stating that there is a job with important responsibilities and significant benefits when you return.
Demonstrating that you have done research on your Course
Firstly, most courses that students apply for in Australia are available in India. However, your SOP should be able to demonstrate the fact that you are aware of the value an Australian qualification will give to you as compared to a similar course in India. You should also demonstrate significant and convincing reasons for not pursuing the same course at home.
In addition, most students, in their SOPs, do not align the course that they have chosen with their career goals. Stating how exactly (with a lot of detail on course modules) the course will help you to achieve your career goals upon return to India is also very important. Overall, you should demonstrate the fact they you know all about the course and the careers that it can lead to.