Australia hikes international student visa fees, enacts major reforms

By Our Reporter
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Representative image // File photo

Significant changes have been implemented in Australia’s international student visa system, effective from today. The cost of an international student visa has more than doubled, rising from A$710 to A$1,600.

This steep increase reflects the Albanese Government’s commitment to enhancing the integrity of the international education sector and addressing issues within the migration system.

The new visa fee hike is set to bolster various educational and migration initiatives. According to joint statements from Minister for Home Affairs and Cyber Security, Clare O’Neil, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Giles and Minister for Skills and Training, Brendan O’Connor, the increased revenue will support measures recommended by the Universities Accord, including fairer HECS repayment terms, paid practical placements, and FEE-Free Uni Ready courses, as well as providing financial support for apprentices and their employers in the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector.

In conjunction with the fee increase, several key elements of the Migration Strategy come into effect:

  • Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT): Increased from $70,000 to $73,150.
  • Temporary Graduate Visas: Duration shortened and age eligibility reduced.
  • Ending ‘Visa Hopping’: Closing loopholes that allowed indefinite stay extensions for students and temporary visa holders.
  • Enhanced Mobility for Skilled Migrants: Extending the period temporary skilled migrants can stay in Australia between employer sponsors from 60 to 180 days.
  • Strengthening Employer Compliance Bill 2023: Introducing new criminal measures against the exploitation of migrants.
  • Workplace Justice Visa Pilot: Allowing temporary visa holders to remain in Australia for a short period while pursuing workplace justice.

“We are continuing our work to weed out the unscrupulous providers who are looking to take advantage of international students. Most providers do the right thing and are in the business of education and training for the right reasons. They will benefit from the removal of non-genuine actors, who undermine integrity and trust in VET,” said O’Connor.

Clare O’Neil highlighted the need for these reforms, stating that the current administration inherited a broken and dysfunctional migration system. The changes aim to clean up the international education sector and create a fairer, more efficient migration system.

“We’re getting on with the job of delivering higher wages for skilled migrants and Australians after a decade of the former Liberal Government deliberately keeping wages low,” Giles added.

Background

Australia’s international education sector is a crucial part of the economy, attracting students from around the world. However, the sector has faced challenges, including unscrupulous providers exploiting international students and a migration system plagued by loopholes. The Albanese Government’s reforms are designed to address these issues, ensuring that Australia remains a top destination for international education while protecting the rights of students and workers.

The increase in visa fees and the accompanying reforms reflect a broader effort to restore integrity to both the education and migration systems. By doing so, the government aims to enhance Australia’s reputation as a provider of high-quality education and a fair destination for skilled migrants.

As these changes take effect, stakeholders across the education and migration sectors will be closely monitoring their impact, hopeful that the reforms will bring about much-needed improvements and stability.


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