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Record-High Number of International Students in Australia

Australia is now home to over 700,000 international students, the highest number on record. These students represent 25 per cent of the country’s 2.8 million temporary migrants.

At a time when net migration is at a record high, the Australian Government has announced initiatives to decrease the population of temporary visa holders. The government’s plan aims to cut the net migrant intake by half within the next two years.

Continue reading to understand how these changes could impact you.

Why has there been an influx in temporary migration?

To help international student numbers recover after COVID-19, the Australian Government introduced measures to encourage overseas students to return. This included relaxing the working hours cap and increasing post-study work rights.  

However, international students, along with other temporary migrants, have returned faster and in far greater numbers than anticipated.

Why is the Australian Government trying to lower its number of temporary migrants?

Australia is currently experiencing a rental crisis, and there are not enough rental properties available for the number of people seeking accommodation. Reducing the number of temporary migrants in the country will help lessen the demand on the market, making it easier for people to find affordable housing.

Additionally, the Australian Government is implementing stricter measures to enhance the integrity of its international education system, which in turn, will lead to a reduction in the number of international students. This includes cracking down on non-genuine educational providers who engage in fraudulent or misleading conduct, as well as preventing migrant worker exploitation and visa misuse.

This will ensure international students coming to Australia receive the high-quality educational experience they deserve.

What does this mean for international students in Australia?

To reduce the number of temporary migrants and improve the integrity of international education in Australia, the government has introduced more rigorous requirements for applicants to meet. These changes have led to an increase in rejected student visa applications. Some of the requirements and measures being taken are:

Higher English language proficiency requirements

Prospective international students will also have to prove a higher level of English language competency. As of 23 March 2024, applicants must demonstrate a minimum IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score of 6.0 or equivalent, up from 5.5.

Suspension of high-risk education providers

The government has also introduced a new measure that determines an educational institution’s risk level. This is assessed against metrics such as the rate of visa cancellations and refusals due to fraud. The government will have enhanced powers to suspend high-risk education providers from recruiting international students.

Students applying to higher-risk institutions will need to supply additional evidence and may have a higher risk of having their visa rejected.

A new genuine student test

From March 2024, student visa applicants must complete a Genuine Student (GS) requirement, which replaces the Genuine Temporary Entrant (GTE) requirement.

The GS requirement will see prospective students answer several questions about themselves, including their circumstances, course choice and study history, as part of their visa application.

Closure of post-study work rights

The extended post-study work rights for international graduates commenced 1 July 2023, providing eligible graduates an additional two years on their Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485).

The extension has been reconsidered after the release of the Migration Strategy, and international higher education graduates will no longer be able to apply for the extension from mid-2024.

International graduates with an Australian qualification, who meet the Australian study requirement, remain eligible for the existing Temporary Graduate (Post-Study Work stream) visa.


Access the latest information on visas and migration via the Department of Home Affairs.