Australia Set to Revise Student Visa Guidelines, Eyes Migration Potential

Tuesday 22 August 2023
Australia Set to Revise Student Visa Guidelines, Eyes Migration Potential
Australia Set to Revise Student Visa Guidelines, Eyes Migration Potential

In a landmark move by the Albanese government, international students might soon be able to declare their intention to migrate to Australia during their visa application process. This comes after an extensive review of student visa guidelines, marking a pivotal shift towards permanent rather than temporary migration.

Previously, student visa applicants were required to adhere to the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) conditions. These conditions primarily focused on students coming to Australia solely for a quality tertiary education. Expressing any intent to gain residency or work post-studies was an automatic rejection criterion.

However, with concerns about shortages in the Australian workforce and the potential value that high-skilled international students can bring, the focus is now shifting. The proposed Genuine Student Test (GST) will consider applicants who, after completing their studies, are keen on contributing to Australia's labor market.

In the Migration Review’s final report, a glaring observation was made - Australia hasn’t been leveraging the potential of high-performing international students. "The education sector has the potential to be a major source of skilled migrants, but it hasn't been utilised to its fullest," the report highlighted.

Leading voices from the educational realm have been advocating for this change. Phil Honeywood, CEO of the International Education Association of Australia, commented on the old policies saying, “Genuine students have been turned away simply for being transparent about their aspirations post-graduation."

However, not everyone is on board. Concerns have arisen about the potential for fraudulent applications. Just in April, Australian universities noticed a surge in counterfeit visa applications from parts of South Asia.

Moreover, there are worries about how this reform could further strain the housing market, especially with projections indicating a surge in net migration numbers. The Albanese government's commitment of $3 billion to build 1.2 million homes over the next five years is being viewed as a response to this potential challenge.

While the government hails this as “the most significant reforms to housing policy in a generation”, it remains to be seen how these changes will pan out in the practical realm, and if they will genuinely benefit both Australia and the international student community.

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