Australia approves record low number of student visas

By Minh Nga   March 2, 2024 | 04:19 am PT
Australia approves record low number of student visas
Students at the University of Sydney Quadrangle Clocktower in Australia in 2020. Photo by Unsplash/Ethan Shi
Australian universities are witnessing a surge in international student applications but a government crackdown has led to record low student visa approval rates.

The approval rate for student visa applications was consistently above 90% between 2006 and 2022, according to official data of the Australian government.

However, it dropped to 86% for the 2021-2022 school year and then fell to the record level of 81.5% for 2023-2024.

ICEF Monitor, an international education information site, said in a new report that predictions based on these approval rates suggest that Australia might see about 90,000 fewer student visa holders this school year compared to last school year.

The Australian government for the last few years has been rolling out more stringent study visa regulations to curb the entry of 'non-genuine' students into the country.

During the 2022-23 period, over 510,000 migrants, including 270,000 international students, arrived in Australia, a significant rise from the 170,000 international students recorded pre-pandemic in 2018-2019.

According to government data, there were 768,000 students in Australia between January and October last year, marking a 29% increase from the previous year.

The influx is reported to have contributed to a housing crisis, exacerbating cost-of-living pressures and causing growing discontent among Australians.

A Reuters report last December said the country would "tighten visa rules for international students and low-skilled workers, as the government looks to overhaul what it said was a ‘broken’ migration system."

The Australian Department of Home Affairs said earlier that about 20% of international students were not granted visas in the second half of 2023, the highest figure in three years.

Lu Thi Hong Nham, director of Duc Anh Education Consulting and Translation Company, told VnExpress last month that when Australia relaxed visa policies after the pandemic, many businesses took advantage of it to bring laborers to Australia under the name of studying abroad.

"The Australian government is cleaning up where it needed to make room for serious and capable international students," she said.

So far, a number of policy changes have been made towards international students, including restrictions on student work hours to less than 48 per fortnight, a requirement for students to demonstrate savings of AU$24,000 before obtaining a visa.

Additionally, restrictions have been placed on students changing from a high-cost to a low-cost college within their first six months in Australia, a tactic commonly exploited by agents to circumvent immigration laws.

Prospective students must now pass a Genuine Student Test, which replaces the Genuine Temporary Entrant Test as measure to assess whether applicants genuinely intend to stay in Australia temporarily for the purpose of study.

The English proficiency requirement for undergraduate international students increased from IELTS 5.5 to 6 and for postgraduate programs.

At the same time, universities are ranked based on their risk level, which is calculated using previous student data. For those with higher risks, the visa application process will take more time.

Additionally, starting from the middle of this year, Australia will adjust its post-study work rights policy for international students, reducing the duration international graduates can stay in the country for work purposes.

According to the Australian Department of Education, as of last October, the country hosted about 768,000 international students, with the largest groups from China, India, and Nepal.

Vietnam ranks sixth with over 31,000 students studying in Australia.

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