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Changes of Migration Strategy on Student Visas

Dec 12, 2023 | AUS | 0 comments

Australia is one of the most sought-after destinations for international students. International student industry makes up for $30 million dollars of Australia’s economy.

As per the New Migration Strategy, “Throughout the reform and consultation process, stakeholders have shared concerns that international student recruitment is partly being driven by some education providers helping non-genuine students to gain access to Australia’s labour market using a student visa. Some private providers in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector with lower fees and shorter durations are of particular concern because these institutions create financial incentives for non-genuine study. Student visa refusal rates also support this assessment, with consistently higher refusal rates for those applying to study VET courses compared with those seeking higher education.”

The first change that the Migration Strategy will incur is to strengthen the high quality of TAFE and higher education institutions.

The Migration Strategy also proposes to oversee the process of student visas to ensure that Australia receives genuine entrants other than non-genuine that just wants to gain access to Australia’s labor market by using a student visa.

The research conducted by the Government also found out what they called “ghost schools” where non-genuine students maintain enrolment without attending classes. The Government finds that this threatens the reputation and integrity of Australia’s international education sector. The Government is also considering suspending high-risk providers after consulting the international education sector.

The Migration review found that “temporary migrants, including students, face a greater risk of workplace exploitation in the labour market. A 2020 study found ‘underpayment of international students was systemic and widespread … half (49 per cent) were paid below the basic statutory minimum wage [and] over three quarters (77 per cent) were paid below the minimum casual hourly wage.”

Summary of changes:

As part of the changes, the Australian Government will:

  • Introduced a first set of measures to improve integrity in international education:
    • closed a loophole that allowed international students to switch to lower quality education providers to facilitate work in Australia ahead of study;
    • increased the amount of savings international students will need to be eligible for a student visa. This requirement had not been indexed since 2019 and should reflect higher living expenses. Applicants now need to show evidence of $24,505 in savings, which is a 17 per cent increase on previous levels;
    • invested $37.8m to bolster the capacity of the national VET regulator, ASQA, including through the establishment of an Integrity Unit to proactively identify and respond to integrity risks in the international VET sector. Boosting ASQA’s capacity will enable a compliance blitz of unlawful behaviour, targeting non genuine providers who may be exploiting international students ;
    • strengthened the fit and proper person requirements that apply to VET providers and signalled intent to change this test in the Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS Act). This will strengthen the standards required to gain and hold Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) registration and deter collusive behaviours associated with international student exploitation ;
    • committed to making education providers more accountable for their agents, through increasing provider reporting requirements and acting to prohibit agent commissions for onshore transfers between providers;
    • committed to developing new risk indicators for international education, to build a whole-of-system risk framework to inform compliance action by education providers.
  • Increase English language requirements to improve the quality of students’ educational experience in Australia and reduce potential workplace exploitation:
    • In early 2024, the Government will increase English language requirements for the Student and Temporary Graduate visas: 
    • the test score required for a Temporary Graduate visa will increase from an International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score (or equivalent) of 6.0 to 6.5 
    • the test score required for a Student visa will increase from IELTS (or equivalent) 5.5 to 6.0
      • the test score required for students   undertaking an English Language    Intensive Course for Overseas    Students (ELICOS) before their main   course of study will increase from    IELTS (or equivalent) 4.5 to 5.0 
    • The test score required for students undertaking university foundation or pathway programs that deliver reputable English language training will be IELTS  (or equivalent) 5.5.
  • Apply greater and more targeted scrutiny to student visa applications from high risk providers which has the intention to discourage non-genuine students that just want to gain access to Australia’s job market.
  • Bolster the student visa integrity unit in the Department of Home Affairs to reduce misuse of Australia’s student visa system
  • Strengthen requirements for international education providers
  • Restrict onshore visa hopping that undermines system integrity and drives ‘permanent temporariness’. Therefore the Government will apply additional scrutiny to international students applying for another student visa
  • The Government will restrict Temporary Graduate visa holders from transferring back  to student visas while onshore
  • Strengthen and simplify Temporary Graduate visas, so that genuine students can gain access to the market and enhance their skills post-graduation.

Change Impact:

  • More genuine students other than those who just wants to get access to the Australia’s job market;
  • Suspension of high-risk education providers;
  • Stronger scrutiny in terms of student visa assessments;
  • Improvement on education levels in terms of students and education providers;
  • High criteria for student visas;
  • High finance criteria for student visa applicants;
  • Encouragement of early career professionals;
  • Limitation on graduate visas;
  • Clearer post-graduate visa pathways.

Crystal Migration Analysis

The Migration Strategy has good intentions regarding the criteria for student visas. Although the process is detailed, the Government has a challenge when it comes to supervising high education schools. 

Crystal Migration believes that the Migration Strategy measures are successful since there are gaps in the High Education sectors with a greater focus on VET courses.

Overall Advice

The best advice for individuals applying for visas who want to qualify and have the opportunity to enter the job market in the field of experience is to choose a course that is their interest to study and compatible with their educational level, apart from having a genuine reason to be studying that course.

If students wish to work or carry out activities other than just studying, other visas for Australia will better suit their needs.

 Contact details

For more information and details about student visa changes, please do not hesitate to contact Crystal Migration on (02) 9189 2988 or