Dan Tehan on Sky News

Following on from the changes announced in December (11 December 2023), Australia is continuing to implement stringent visa policies for international students, making it more onerous for Indian students to come to Australia to study down under.

The government had announced bringing migration back down to sustainable, normal levels as part of its strategy to get migration working for the nation.

International education is a key national asset for Australia, the biggest export we don’t dig out of the ground. But the extent to which this was being used by various governments is somewhat unpalatable under the present domestic clime.

In the name of strengthening the integrity of international education sector, the Albanese Government’s clever strategy is used as a lever to bring some relief for the millions of Aussies facing extreme economic pressure.

With the continuing cost of living pressures, rents creeping high making it almost impossible for single earners of modest income to be able to rent and live a comfortable life, all levers in the toolbox are up for grabs now, with federal elections not too far away.

According to the figures released in December last year, estimated net-overseas migration was down to 375,000 in the 2023-24 financial year, compared with 510,000 in 2022-23.

Experts believe the net-overseas migration figure should be closer to 200,000 to be comfortable for Australia and if it is anywhere higher than 250,000, some steps need to be taken.

You can figure that out for yourself when the figure is sitting at 375,000.

The easy target area – which can be dealt with quickly is the international students. Their arrival and utility can be tailer-made for Australia’s needs as the circumstances change.

The government is working on the net-overseas migration numbers to be around 250,000 in 2024-25, and 2025-26 and further fall to 235,000 in 2026-27.

Clearly, international students’ market is the area the government’s attention is at.

Both ministers for Immigration Andrew Giles and Home Affairs Clare O’Neil have already said the rogue operators in that market will be weeded out in the process.

Although governments of all persuasions have had to factor in large numbers of migrants (both temporary and permanent) for their big budgetary contribution to the annual budget, the pressure on the government is colossal and it can no longer sweep the issue under the carpet.

To make matters worse for potential international students in India hoping to come to Australia, the Opposition is also on the side of lowering the numbers of international student intake. Shadow Immigration Minister Dan Tehan has also expressed concern over the number of international students in Australia.

“Record numbers of international students are still coming. This is way too much. We are in a housing crisis, and rents have skyrocketed. People can’t even get to see doctors. Cities are getting crowded”, Dan Tehan told Sky News in an interview.

Among the controlling levers in the hands of the government, is the post-study work visas currently three years which makes Australia very attractive destination. Soon this will change to two years along with more robust and stringent measures placing restrictions on changing courses / providers in the middle of studies.

Approximately 40% of Australia’s total international student population in 2023 was made up of international students from India. That means a huge supply source of international students is based in India who now will face much tougher and stringent measures and requirements to meet in order to satisfy Australian immigration to be able to succeed in getting a student visa.

Flowing from that, newer restrictions on work permits, spouse and parents traveling to Australia will make the journey of Indian families to support their son/daughter students a lot more cumbersome.

With the clock fast ticking to the 2025 federal election, a lot more drama is likely to unfold in the coming months.

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