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Australia tightens student visa rules months after Canada invokes similar rules I Impact on Indian students

From March 23, English language requirements for student and graduate visas will be increased, while the Australian government will get the power to suspend education providers from recruiting international students if they repeatedly break the rules.

Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Sydney Updated on: March 21, 2024 16:11 IST
Australia student visa
Image Source : PIXABAY Representational Image

Sydney: Australia will begin enforcing tougher visa rules for foreign students this week as official data showed migration hit another record high, which is likely to further exacerbate an already tight rental market. From Saturday, English language requirements for student and graduate visas will be increased, while the government will get the power to suspend education providers from recruiting international students if they repeatedly break the rules.

"The actions this weekend will continue to drive migration levels down while delivering on our commitments in the migration strategy to fix the broken system we inherited," Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil said in a statement.

Why is Australia implementing tougher rules for students?

A new "genuine student test" will be introduced to further crack down on international students who look to come to Australia primarily to work, while the imposition of "no further stay" conditions will be used on more visitor visas.

The moves follow a raft of actions last year to close off COVID-era concessions introduced by the former government, including unrestricted working hours for international students. The government at the time said rules would be tightened for students that could halve its migrant intake over two years.

Student influx increased in Australia

Australia boosted its annual migration numbers in 2022 to help businesses recruit staff to fill shortages after the COVID-19 pandemic brought strict border controls, and kept foreign students and workers out for nearly two years. But the sudden influx of foreign workers and students has exacerbated pressure on an already tight rental market.

A date released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday showed net immigration rose 60% to a record 5,48,800 in the year to September 30, 2023, higher than the 5,18,000 people in the year ending June 2023. Overall, Australia's population rose 2.5% - the fastest pace on record - to 26.8 million people in the year to last September.

Will Australia's latest rules will impact Indian students?

The record migration - driven by students from India, China and the Philippines - has expanded labour supply and restrained wage pressures, but it exacerbated an already tight housing market where rental vacancies hovered at record lows and elevated construction costs restricted new supply. O'Neil said the government's actions since September have led to a decline in migration levels, with recent international student visa grants down by 35% on the previous year.

According to data released by the Indian government, nearly 1 lakh students head to Australia for higher studies. The number seems only to increase in recent years as the record shows 73,808 Indian students went to Australia in 2019. However, the trend halted for two years during the covid pandemic wherein 33,629 students went to Sydney in 2020 and 8,950 in 2021. But, in 2022, the data shows over 1 lakh Indian students were staying in Australia, majorly on student visas. Now, as the government is scheduled to impose restrictions, definitely, the move will impact students from New Delhi. 

Canada also imposed similar restrictions on students 

Earlier last week, the Government of Canada changed its Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP) rules for international students. Students who have completed a Master's degree program in less than two years will now qualify for a 3-year PGWP provided they meet all other eligibility criteria. However, from 1 September 2024, students enrolled in Course Licensing Agreement programs will no longer be eligible for PGWP. Additionally, special measures for distance education and PGWP validity have been extended till 31 August 2024.

It is worth mentioning Canada has emerged as a popular destination for international students since it is relatively easy to obtain work permits after finishing courses. But the surge in international students led to an acute shortage in rental apartments, which pushed up rents. In December, rents nationwide rose 7.7% from a year earlier, according to Statscan.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's popularity has been dented mainly due to the affordability crisis, and opposition Conservative Party leader Pierre Poilievre has taken a commanding lead over Trudeau in opinion polls ahead of an election next year. Apart from the rental crisis, the government has also been concerned about the quality of education provided by some of the institutions.

(With inputs from agency)

Also Read: Why is Canada limiting entry of foreign students? Will it impact Indian students? EXPLAINED

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