Australia tightens immigration rules: what should international students expect?
The tightening of immigration rules in Australia has caused concern among students, as they may be left without the opportunity to continue their studies. The Australian government's decision for 2023 has caused a wave of outrage among Indian students. Learn more about how Australia's immigration rule change may affect international students
Australia is considered one of the most desirable countries for study abroad among Indian students. According to the government, at least 1.09 thousand students from India chose Australia for their education in 2022. Their number has been steadily increasing since 2019, when it stood at 73,808, but due to the Covid pandemic, it fell to 33,629 in 2020 and 8,950 in 2021. However, recent decisions by the Australian government to tighten visa rules and toughen English language tests have raised concerns among Indian students. In addition to India, many students come to Australia from China, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and New Zealand.
If you are planning to move to Australia to study or work, use the guides from Visit World. These documents contain basic advice on visa applications, border crossing, employment, citizenship, and much more.
The main provisions of Australia's new immigration rules
The Australian government has decided to tighten the requirements for English language proficiency for student and postgraduate visas. According to the new rules, from the beginning of 2024, the minimum score for a temporary graduate visa will increase from 6.0 to 6.5 IELTS points, and for a student visa - from 5.5 to 6.0 IELTS points or equivalent.
In addition, a new Genuine Student test has been introduced for all international students, which will facilitate applications from genuine students and make it harder for fake applicants to gain access. The government will also additionally check the applications of high-risk students and crack down on unscrupulous education providers. In addition, the increased amount of savings that international students must have to obtain a visa is $24,505, 17% more than before, given the rising cost of living.
Students from India at Australian universities
International students make up a significant part of the Australian economy, bringing in about $30 billion a year and ranking 4th among export items. Even in the current environment, when Australian universities have not yet fully recovered from the pandemic, they attract a significant number of international students.
Macquarie University, for example, currently has 45,000 students, of which about 10,000 are international students from more than 80 countries. South Asia is becoming the most attractive region for this university. Deakin University also received a huge number of applications from Indian students last year, between 20,000 and 25,000. Even before the pandemic, the University of Wollongong had more than 36,000 students, of which more than 8,000 were international. However, recent changes to study visa requirements may pose a challenge for Indian students and other international applicants seeking to study in Australia.
International students' reaction to Australia's new immigration rules
Experts have expressed resistance to the accelerated alignment of education with outcomes, as they believe that this could negatively impact Australian universities in the short term. Failure to meet enrolment targets could result in losses for educational institutions. This becomes particularly relevant as students have a wide choice of study destinations around the world.
In particular, in the face of the current housing crisis and labour market saturation, the Australian government is looking for a balance. However, frequent policy changes every 2–3 years can create instability for international students. This will complicate their ability to plan their future education and career development.
Thus, experts call for caution when introducing radical changes to the education system. They emphasise the importance of maintaining stability and predictability for students, especially for international applicants who choose Australia for their studies.
How do international students affect the labour market in Australia?
The decision of the Australian government to restrict the access of foreign graduates to the labour market after completing their studies in the country has caused a lively debate. According to the Migration Strategy, at least half of graduate visa holders do not work in their field of study, often finding themselves in positions that do not match their qualifications.
This is especially true of engineering and IT graduates, although the demand for such specialists in Australia remains high. The country's universities have welcomed this decision, as they see it as an opportunity to improve the quality of education and increase the chances of international students to succeed in their studies.
This innovation will contribute to the formation of a higher quality student base, which, in turn, will have a positive impact on the academic and professional achievements of students. It will also help create a more transparent student selection system and support global academic and professional ambitions.
It is noted that this decision is aimed at returning the migration system to its original model of operation. Australia is committed to having a migration system that meets its needs, providing the necessary skills and interests of Australians and international students who make a significant contribution to the country's development.
Students' views on Australia's new immigration rules
The decision to increase the English language proficiency requirements for undergraduate and postgraduate visas has caused a wave of discussion among students and experts. While Australian universities have welcomed the decision, some students have expressed concerns about its possible implications, especially for those from smaller towns and cities who do not have sufficient English language skills.
According to the Migration Survey report, the majority of international students and graduates are "permanently temporary" migrants, and their stay in the country can be extended on various grounds. However, the study shows that these temporary migrants are at risk of exploitation in the labour market, including underpayment.
Of particular concern is the fact that low levels of English language proficiency may make migrants more vulnerable to exploitation.
Meanwhile, some Australian universities are opening campuses in India, but students are hesitant about whether this will provide them with the same level of quality and cultural experience they could get by studying abroad. Overall, the new policy is causing many contradictory reactions and concerns among international students and experts.
The editors of Visit World recommend using the Travel Guide for Australia for a comfortable and safe trip.
The guide is a detailed written document that contains basic advice on obtaining a visa, crossing the border, getting a job, citizenship, and much more. More details at the link.
Products from Visit World for a comfortable trip:
Checklist for obtaining a visa and necessary documents in Australia;
Legal advice on business issues in Australia;
Travel insurance for foreigners in Australia;
Medical insurance around the world.
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