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Australia Increases International Student Visa Fees

As of 1 July 2024, the cost of international student visa applications to Australia has increased from $710 to $1,600. This adjustment is part of new migration policies introduced to enhance the quality and integrity of Australia’s migration and education sectors.

However, the application fee is non-refundable, and this increase comes at a time when many visas are being rejected. This makes the financial commitment even more significant for prospective students.

Reasons behind the visa fee increase

This substantial fee hike is part of a broader effort by the Australian Government to reflect the growing value of education in the country. It also aims to fund important initiatives to improve both the education and migration systems.

Minister for Education, Jason Clare, emphasised, “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…”

What initiatives will the increased student visa fees fund?

The additional revenue from the visa fee increase will be directed towards several key initiatives:

  • Education sector improvements: This includes fairer HECS terms, paid practical experiences and more FEE-Free Uni Ready courses.
  • Vocational Education and Training support: Financial aid will be provided for apprentices and their employers to promote skill development and employment opportunities.
  • Migration strategy enhancements: Efforts will be made to streamline the migration process and improve the integrity of the international education sector.

Minister for Skills and Training, Brendan O’Connor, highlighted the importance of these reforms, stating, “Australia attracts international students from around the world with its world-class education sector. We must ensure these students receive the quality education they pay for.”

How has the sector responded?

Sector leaders have hit back against Australia’s decision to more than double student visa costs. The Group of Eight criticised the decision as a “blatant revenue-raising move masked as deterring low-quality students” and “another nail in the coffin for international education.”

Chief executive of the International Education Association Phil Honeywood said the fee increase, on top of a visa crackdown and proposed student caps, equated to “death by 1,000 cuts.”

He added, “It’s nothing to do with the quality [of students], it’s all about trying to find a new revenue source to fund the Universities Accord implementation. They’ve taken the easy route.”

Other changes to Australia’s migration system

Alongside the fee increase, several other important changes will take effect on 1 July 2024. These aim to make the migration process smoother and more beneficial for international students and skilled migrants:

  • Higher income threshold for skilled migrants: The minimum income required for skilled migrants will increase from $70,000 to $73,150 This is to ensure fair compensation.
  • Changes to Temporary Graduate visas: The duration of these visas will be shortened, and age eligibility criteria will be stricter to better match labour market needs.
  • Ending ‘visa hopping’: Loopholes that allowed indefinite visa extensions will be closed, ensuring the system remains fair.
  • Extended stay between jobs for skilled migrants: The period skilled migrants can stay in Australia between jobs will be extended from 60 days to 180 days, providing more flexibility. You can learn more about these updates here.
  • Stronger employer regulations: New laws will be introduced to prevent employers from exploiting migrant workers.
  • Workplace Justice Visa pilot: A new initiative will allow temporary visa holders to stay in Australia temporarily while pursuing workplace justice. This ensures they can seek fair treatment without fear of losing their visa.

Minister for Home Affairs and Cyber Security, Clare O’Neil, stated, “We inherited a broken migration system and a compromised international education sector. Reform is essential.”

“These changes will restore integrity to our international education system and create a fairer, more efficient migration system.”

For more information on these changes, see the Department of Home Affairs website.