Australian universities cancel offers of enrollment to international students

By Doan Hung, Minh Nga   February 19, 2024 | 03:23 pm PT
Australian universities cancel offers of enrollment to international students
Students study at the library of a university in Australia. Photo by Unsplash/Arie Oldman
Eight Australian universities, both public and private, have canceled admission offers for international students amid the government tightening student visas to reduce immigration.

Western Sydney University, Macquarie, Wollongong, Latrobe, Deakin, Central Queensland, Edith Cowan, and Kaplan Business School (KBS) have recently sent notifications to cancel admissions or request withdrawal of applications to international students and recruitment agents.

The eight institutions stated that all fees paid by the candidates would be refunded.

"You recently received an email from the University of Wollongong [UOW] noting that you have been issued with a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) to commence your studies in the Autumn 2024 session, but had not received a visa. In order to assist you to achieve the best outcome for your future, you were given the option to either withdraw your offer and receive a refund, or defer your offer," an email from the University of Wollongong to an applicant reads.

"Unfortunately, the Australian Government has recently implemented substantial changes to its migration strategy. Given those changes, the close commencement of your preferred intake, and the fact that have not received a visa outcome as yet, UOW has determined that you are unlikely to meet the new criteria to obtain a positive visa outcome."

The move stems from the new immigration policy of the Australian Department of Home Affairs, which was announced last December to rank universities based on their risk level.

Based on the data of students who previously violated visa regulations, universities are categorized into three groups. International students applying to Group 1 will be prioritized.

For those in Groups 2 and 3, the visa application process will take more time, requiring additional proof of English proficiency and financial capacity.

Therefore, to protect their reputation, many institutions have chosen to cancel the admission offers of candidates, mainly those from India, Nepal, and Pakistan, who have a high rate of visa rejection.

In the second half of 2023, the visa approval rates for students from Pakistan dropped by 37%, India by 39%, and Nepal by 52%.

"[They] feel that they need to get the visa [applications] withdrawn to avoid further refusals as these refusals will lead to higher risk level," said Nishi Borra, president of the Association of Australian Education Representatives in India, in a report on Feb. 13 by Times Higher Education.

He said visas were being rejected not because of fraudulent or misleading applications, but because visa processors doubted the applicants' intentions.

Authorities were "using visa refusals to reduce the net student intake" without spelling out new requirements and judging applicants accordingly, he said.

As the government slashes foreign student arrivals to reduce net overseas migration by 250,000 by July 2025, visa applications are being refused at an unprecedented level, and just 80% of applications were approved in the six months to December, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

According to the Department of Home Affairs, about 19% of international students were not granted visas in the second half of 2023, the highest in three years. By December 2023, the country announced plans to halve the number of immigrants over the next two years.

Under Australia's new migration settings, prospective students must now prove a higher level of savings and a higher level of English proficiency and must pass a Genuine Student Test (GST), a measure introduced by the Australian government as part of its visa application process for international students.

This new test is designed to assess whether applicants genuinely intend to stay in Australia temporarily for the purpose of study. The GST replaces the previous Genuine Temporary Entrant requirement, aiming to provide a more thorough evaluation of an applicant's circumstances, study plans, and intentions to return to their home country after their studies are completed.

Besides, the English proficiency requirement for undergraduate international students increased from IELTS 5.5 to 6 and for postgraduate programs, from 6 to 6.5.

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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