“Are We Cash Cows?” - Int’l Students Reconsider Plans to Study in Australia Due to Visa Fees Hike

Australia Oceania International Studies Higher Education News by Erudera News Jul 10, 2024

A person holding a jar of money

The Australian government’s decision to implement an increase in visa fees for international students has sparked reactions among international students who are now reconsidering their studies in the country.

As of July 1, 2024, student visa fees in Australia more than doubled, from $710 to $1,600, making Australia one of the most expensive countries in the world to get a student visa, Erudera.com reports.

Following this decision, international students have expressed concern about being treated as “cash cows” in Australia. Some of them are now considering other study destinations, such as Europe.

“Is this because [the Australian government] simply doesn’t want me to come? Am I a cash cow,” Chinese student Wang Cheng told ABC News.

Cheng told the same source that she has now shifted focus to Europe or even Hong Kong as it is closer to China and because university programs are usually shorter in duration.

International students in Australia contribute significantly to the country’s economy. In the year to date April 2024, over 780,000 international students contributed more than $47 billion to the country’s economy, official data indicate.

The increase in visa fees is part of the stricter rules for international students, which aim to reduce net migration. From January to March 2024, the number of international students in Australia reached 704,931, most of them from China and India.

In its statement announcing the change, the government said it reflects Australia’s increasing value of education and commitment to restoring the integrity of the international education sector.

“International education is an incredibly important national asset and we need to ensure its integrity and quality. These changes will strengthen integrity in the international education system and help to fund important reforms recommended by the Universities Accord, including making HECS fairer, paid prac and expanding FEE-Free Uni Ready courses,” Education Minister, Jason Clare said.

Net Migration Hit Record High of 145,200

Net migration in Australia hit 145,200 in the September 2023 quarter. According to ABS data, net migration contributed to 84 percent of population growth in Australia, a record high.

Prior to this, the government announced it increased the minimum funds requirements for international students, asking them to show financial proof of at least $29,710, up from the previous requirement of $24,505 set in October 2023.

Australia released a migration strategy in December 2023 intending to protect international students and offer the latter the best experience in the country,

It increased, among other things, the English language requirements to reduce the potential exploitation of international students while studying in the country.

The strategy also includes:

  • Stricter requirements for international education providers
  • Simplified process of temporary graduate visas
  • More targeted scrutiny of student visa applications from high-risk providers

© Melissa Walker Horn | Unsplash

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