The Australian Government has recently announced significant changes to the financial capacity requirements for international students applying for student visas. These adjustments, set to take effect from October 1, 2023, are aimed at addressing a range of concerns within the international education sector, including unethical practices and exploitation of the visa system.
New Financial Capacity Requirement
The most notable change is the increase in the minimum savings threshold that student visa applicants must demonstrate. Previously set at AU$21,041, this requirement is now being raised to AU$24,505, representing a 17 percent increase. This adjustment is in response to the rising cost of living in Australia, ensuring that international students have sufficient financial resources to support themselves throughout their studies.
The Significance of Financial Capacity
The financial capacity requirement has long been a crucial component of the student visa application process. It is designed to ensure that international students possess the financial means to cover their travel, course fees, and living costs during their stay in Australia. By setting this requirement, the government aims to reduce the risk of financial hardship that students might face while pursuing their education in the country.
Cracking Down on Unethical Practices
These changes to the student visa requirements are part of a broader effort by the Australian Government to address unethical practices and safeguard the integrity of its international education sector. The government has expressed its commitment to ending unscrupulous activities that have plagued the system, referring to them as “rorts and loopholes.”
Issues Within the International Education Sector
Recent concerns have arisen regarding unethical practices within the international education sector. These include the recruitment of students by unethical colleges soon after their arrival in Australia, with large commissions being paid to agents who facilitate students changing courses. Such practices have not only raised alarm bells but have also cost universities millions in lost tuition revenue and increased recruitment and marketing expenses.
Raul V Hernandez, former Honorary Consul General of the Philippines to Victoria and Co-Founder of the Philippine-Australia Committee on Education (PACE), has expressed his cautious optimism about these reforms.
“I believe that the Philippines is not considered as one of the “greatest concerns” of the Department of Home Affairs. They may be referring to other countries and I hope it remains this way,” Hernandez said.
“Although the reforms announced are important, I’d rather see more drastic regulations on Education providers and Education Agents responsibilities towards the recruitment of international students,” he added.
Hernandez emphasized the need for stronger regulations on education providers and agents involved in recruiting international students. He also calls for increased regulation regarding the use of social media in promoting international education in Australia.
Furthermore, he is encouraging the Philippine government to establish its own accreditation and eligibility guidelines for education providers and agents to provide an additional layer of protection for Filipino international students. He suggests collaboration between Australian and Philippine trade officials to strengthen the regulatory frameworks surrounding vocational and higher education opportunities.
“I think it would be valuable for Australian and Philippine trade officials to work together on strengthening the regulatory frameworks around the promotion of vocational and higher education opportunities,” Hernandez said.
In addition to raising the savings requirement, the government is implementing several other measures. Enrolled students will be restricted from enrolling in a second course during their first six months in Australia. The Department of Home Affairs will apply additional scrutiny to “high-risk cohorts” of international students and will be vigilant for fraudulent documentation.
More information is available in Study in Australia website.