Australia's study visa grants drop sharply amid stricter migration policies

By Minh Nga   June 26, 2024 | 05:00 pm PT
Australia's study visa grants drop sharply amid stricter migration policies
Students at their graduation ceremony from the School of Commerce at the University of Sydney in Australia in 2016. Photo by Reuters
The latest data from the Australian government shows a drop by nearly 30% in study visa grants for offshore applicants in the first four months of 2024 compared to the same period last year.

According to Australia's Department of Home Affairs, there were a total of 74,421 study visas granted to offshore applicants from January through April of this year, falling 29.1% against 104,808 visas granted in the same period in 2023.

This reduction is notably less severe than the more than 50% decline experienced in visas granted to offshore students between 2019/20 and 2020/21 during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to an ICEF Monitor report last week.

The decrease is attributed to stricter migration policies and higher standards for visa approval. Particularly affected are the sectors of vocational education and training and English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students, which have seen their lowest visa grant rates in over a decade, excluding the pandemic period.

These sectors accounted for a substantial portion of the total decline in visa grants, said the report.

Since the end of last year, Australia has introduced many policies tightening visas for international students. The goal is to reduce the number of immigrants to half the current number within the next two years.

In February, the country reduced the time for international students to stay with visa from four to six years to two to four years. Universities were also divided into three groups, depending on the risk level of recruitment.

In March, the English requirement for international students was raised to 6.0-6.5 IELTS, 0.5 points higher than before, and the part-time work limit was set to 24 hours, whereas previously there was no limit.

Last month, Australia increased the financial proof requirement for international students to AUD$29,700 (US$19,800), 20% higher than before.

Last week, the Home Affairs Department announced it would stop converting tourist visas to student status, starting next month.

These measures have led to higher rejection rates and a drop in overall approval rates to 77.4% from 80.5% the previous year.

Industry representatives have expressed concern that these stringent policies threaten the financial viability of education providers still recovering from the pandemic, potentially leading to job losses.

Australia is one of the most popular study destinations in the world.

International education is one of Australia's largest export industries and was worth AUD36.4 billion (US$24.3 billion) last year.

From the beginning of the year to the end of March this year, Australia had over 740,000 international students, with Vietnamese students accounting for 5%.

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