Home | International Education | International student numbers to drop by 90,000 this year
International student numbers are estimated to drop by 90,000 this year. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Nicki Connolly

International student numbers to drop by 90,000 this year

Almost 20 per cent of all international student visa applications have been rejected so far this financial year, leaving Australia on track to accept 91,715 fewer visa holders in 2023-24 than the year prior.

The current 81 per cent approval rate is down from 86 per cent in 2022-23, 91.5 per cent in 2021-22, and 89.9 per cent pre-pandemic in 2018-19.

Just over 139,000 overseas student visas have been approved since July 1, which is why this year's migration numbers to drop well below last year's record of 577,295 visas granted.

The lowered approval percentage is part of the federal government's effort to dramatically decrease the number of 'non-genuine' students travelling to Australia, who are more interested in working rather than studying.

For example, students who apply to complete a diploma-level vocational subject are less likely to be admitted than those applying to learn sought-after skills, like those required to work in engineering or technology fields.

A Department of Home Affairs spokeswoman told The Australian visa approvals need to uphold the integrity of the recently shaken-up student visa program.

“The department has seen increasing levels of integrity concerns across the student visa program,” she said.

“The department received higher levels of fraudulent documents, fraud related to English language testing, non-genuine claims and non-genuine subsequent marriages being presented in student visa applications.

“The department will refuse a visa application to non-genuine applicants who do not meet regulatory requirements and where fraud is present.”

The government's restrictions also hope to shift perception of Australia on the international stage as a high-quality education provider.

Highly inflated international student numbers have also been blamed for straining housing availability and government services.

"[Universities] do not want Australia to be known as a country where you come here, you get exploited, you don't get educated properly and frankly the course you signed up on wasn't quite what it looked like," the Minister for Home Affairs Clare O'Neil said.

"So we've got a bit of a repair job to do … the things we are doing are important for that sector. They're generally supported by providers of education and that's because they know we've got to fix this, otherwise it will really go off the rails."

There is a current global trend of limiting student migration, with Canada announcing a two-year cap on foreign students that will cut numbers by 35 per cent, and Britain forbidding its overseas students from bringing dependants with them.

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