Australia tightens student visa rules amid concerns of misuse

In a move aimed at safeguarding the integrity of its international education sector, the Australian government has announced the immediate closure of a visa loophole that allowed international students to enrol in cheaper vocational courses upon their arrival in the country.

The “concurrent study” rule, which permitted international students to pursue supplementary courses alongside their primary studies, was initially designed to enhance their job readiness through short-term courses. However, recent investigations have revealed that many students were exploiting this rule by abandoning their university programs and permanently transitioning to less expensive courses.

The utilization of concurrent study has experienced a significant surge, with 17,000 concurrent enrolments recorded in the first half of 2023. This figure starkly contrasts with the combined total of 10,500 enrolments during the same period in 2019 and 2022.

To address this issue, Education Minister Jason Clare said, “This change will work to stop predatory ‘second’ providers from enrolling students before they have studied for the required six months at their first provider.” The immediate goal is to curtail practices that could potentially undermine the quality of education and compromise the economic contribution of international education, which ranks as Australia’s fourth-largest export industry.

To further ensure the financial well-being of international students, the government will implement an adjustment to the amount of savings necessary for a student visa application. Effective from October 1st, foreign students will need to demonstrate evidence of A$24,505 ($15,693) in savings, reflecting a 17% increase from the current requirement. This adjustment accounts for higher living expenses that students may encounter during their stay in Australia.

The Australian government’s swift action underscores its commitment to maintaining the reputation and value of its international education sector. By closing the loophole and imposing stricter financial criteria, the government aims to uphold the industry’s standards and contribute to the country’s economic stability.

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