In recent days, international students have been a popular topic of conversation in Australia’s media landscape. For instance, several publications have debated the role of international students in Australia’s rental crisis. Some have expressed that immigration – including the high volume of international students moving to Australia – is to blame for the nation’s housing shortage, while others have argued that international students and migrants are just a “convenient scapegoat”.
In light of these discussions, many media outlets are speculating that the Australian Government could potentially place a limit on the number of international students permitted to enter the country. While no cap has been officially confirmed, it’s a good idea to be aware of the discourse around the subject.
Here’s what we know so far and how it could affect the future of international education in Australia.
Why is a potential cap on international students being discussed?
Earlier this year, two major reports emerged, both of which made many recommendations to improve Australia’s higher education and migration systems. The first, which focused on Australia’s tertiary education landscape, was the Australian Universities Accord Interim Report and the second was the Review of the Migration System (also known as the Parkinson’s Report).
While the government has already accepted and actioned some of the reports’ recommendations, it is expected that it will adopt more of the proposed changes.
One of these proposed changes is imposing a levy on international students entering the country. The idea behind such a tax would be that a portion of international students’ fees would go into a fund. This fund would then be distributed to universities that don’t receive enough income from international student fees to weather economic challenges.
Another suggestion has been to place a limit on the number of international students allowed to enter Australia every year. The proposal comes as international student numbers exceeded 725,000 in the January to August 2023 period – a 31 per cent increase from the same period in the previous year.
A cap like this is not only being considered in Australia. Last year, reports emerged that UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was considering a similar policy for Britain. More recently, several media outlets reported that Canada was also pondering the same move to combat its own housing crisis.
Will the cap actually be implemented?
At the time of publication, the Australian Government has yet to confirm if the cap on international student numbers will be put into effect. However, some major players in the international education sector have high hopes that no cap will take effect this year.
Speaking to Insider Guides, Council of International Students Australia (CISA) President Yeganeh Soltanpour shared that she feels confident that the limit won’t take effect.
“My personal understanding is that the cap will likely not go ahead,” she shared.
According to the Australia Financial Review, Phil Honeywood, chief executive of the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA), shared the sentiment, expressing that he strongly believed there would be no caps placed on incoming international students.
Insider Guides will be updating this article as new information becomes available.