International education is a thriving sector in Australia, ranking as the fourth-largest export industry. To maintain the quality and integrity of this crucial sector, the Albanese Government has unveiled a package of measures aimed at curbing abuse and ensuring genuine international students have access to a high-quality education experience.
Closing the Loophole: Protecting Genuine Study
One of the key measures announced by the government involves closing a significant loophole. Until now, some education providers exploited a loophole that allowed them to transition international students, who had been in Australia for less than six months, from genuine study to an arrangement designed to facilitate access to work. This misuse of ‘concurrent enrolment’ has been identified as an integrity issue for the international education sector. Effective immediately, this loophole is closed.
Increasing Financial Requirements for Student Visas
To further safeguard the interests of international students, the government is increasing the financial requirements for student visas. The current requirement has remained stagnant since 2019 and is no longer reflective of the rising living expenses in Australia. Starting from October 1, 2023, international students must demonstrate evidence of having $24,505 in savings, a 17% increase from the previous requirement. This adjustment ensures that students can adequately support themselves during their studies, reducing their vulnerability to exploitation.
Additional Scrutiny and Measures to Prevent Fraud
In a bid to prevent fraudulent applications, the government will apply additional scrutiny to high-risk cohorts of international students. This will involve requesting additional documents to verify the authenticity of applications, ensuring that only genuine students are granted visas.
Furthermore, the government is considering invoking Section 97 of the Education Services for Overseas Students Act (ESOS Act) to issue suspension certificates to high-risk education providers. This unprecedented step reflects the government’s commitment to eradicating unscrupulous providers. The government will seek input on regulations that would specify the grounds for issuing suspension certificates, such as fraudulent document submission and provider refusal rates. Notably, over 200 providers with visa refusal rates exceeding 50% are currently under scrutiny.
Looking Ahead: The Migration Strategy
These measures represent a significant step in strengthening the integrity of the international education system in Australia. Minister for Education Jason Clare emphasizes the importance of maintaining the integrity of this valuable national asset. The measures also aim to prevent predatory practices by ‘second’ providers and unscrupulous operators.
Minister for Skills and Training, Brendan O’Connor, highlights the critical role of vocational education and training (VET) in addressing skills shortages and securing future jobs. The government’s commitment to lifting perceptions of VET underscores its determination to create a fit-for-purpose VET sector.
Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil unequivocally states that the government will not tolerate the exploitation of international students. She emphasizes the need to shut down the rorts and loopholes that have plagued the international education system.
The full press release is available on the Ministers’ websites.
In closing, it’s worth noting that the Albanese Government is actively considering additional measures to further bolster the integrity of the international education system as part of the upcoming Migration Strategy. For those with questions or concerns about their migration status or visa applications, NB Migration Law is ready to provide assistance and guidance, don’t hesitate to contact us today.