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Aus to resume student visa processing among measures to boost sector

The Australian government has announced it will recommence granting international student visas and allow current students to count online study while overseas to ensure the country remains a priority study abroad destination as it emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Acting immigration minister, Alan Tudge said, “students want to study here and we want to welcome them back in a safe and measured way when it is safe to do so". Photo: Unsplash

Around 87,000 (22%) of university students remain outside Australia

International students contribute AUD$40 billion annually and support 250,000 jobs. However, as a result of border closures due to the coronavirus crisis,  around 87,000 (or 22%) of university students remain outside Australia.

“Students want to study here and we want to welcome them back in a safe and measured way”

The latest announcement by acting immigration minister, Alan Tudge, comes as part of five measures aimed at keeping international students in Australia amid concerns some won’t return once the pandemic subsides.

The changes include:

  • The government will recommence granting student visas in all locations lodged outside Australia. This means when borders re-open, students will already have visas and be able to make arrangements to travel.
  • International students will be able to lodge a further student visa application free of charge, if they are unable to complete their studies within their original visa validity due to Covid-19.
  • Current student visa holders studying online outside Australia due to Covid-19 will be able to use that study to count towards the Australian study requirement for a post-study work visa.
  • Graduates who held a student visa will be eligible to apply for a post-study work visa outside Australia if they are unable to return due to Covid-19.
  • Additional time will be given for applicants to provide English language results where Covid-19 has disrupted access to these services.

Tudge said the changes provide assurance to international students already in Australia and those who haven’t been able to travel due to Covid-19 border closures.

“These measures back the international education sector – our fourth-largest export sector – and will assist its recovery,” Tudge said.

“In making these changes, we have been guided by the principles that the health of Australians is key, but international students should not be further disadvantaged by Covid-19.

“Students want to study here and we want to welcome them back in a safe and measured way when it is safe to do so.”

Minister for Education, Dan Tehan, said the changes would give international students confidence in their visa arrangements so they can make plans to study in Australia when it is safe to do so.

The Australian government has previously relaxed work restrictions for international students working in the health, aged and disability care sectors during the pandemic.

Responding to the announcement CEO of English Australia, Brett Blacker, said visa changes, particularly fee waivers, have been a key component of the sector’s advocacy efforts with government over the last few months.

“It is fantastic to see the government make these changes, sending a clear message that Australia supports international students,” he said.

Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia also welcomed the announcement, particularly the change that will allow international students to lodge a further student visa application free of charge if they are unable to complete their studies within their original visa validity due to Covid-19.

“ITECA has consistently advocated for this measure that will allow international students to continue their studies within Australia without an additional cost,” said Troy Williams, ITECA chief executive.

He said a significant change will permit current student visa holders to study online outside Australia due to Covid-19, and enable them to use that study to count towards the Australian study requirement for a post-study work visa.

“New, as well as current, students should be included in the amended arrangements for post-study work rights”

“ITECA, along with other stakeholders, had argued for this as a pathway that will allow international students to commence their studies online as a pathway for future study within Australia,” he added.

However, while Universities Australia chief executive, Catriona Jackson, acknowledged the “sensible” changes for existing international students would provide certainty for their future plans in Australia, “we need to understand what the changes mean for prospective students”.

“We believe that new, as well as current, students should be included in the amended arrangements for post-study work rights. It is not clear that this is the case, and we continue to seek confirmation of this important point,” she noted.

“Many new students will be adversely affected by Covid-19, and they should be treated the same as continuing students.”

As a result of the pandemic, Australian universities face an estimated $16 billion black hole due to the drop in international student numbers, further compounded by warnings from China that the country is unwelcoming and unsafe.

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15 Responses to Aus to resume student visa processing among measures to boost sector

  1. Do international students enrolling for spring 2020 in July and taking classes online fit the criteria to be eligible for PSW. It is not clearly mentioned the the visa changes.

  2. This is a very good idea, but how can I apply and when would I apply. Thanks, Simeon from Nigeria

  3. Work permit processing is what is needed to boost the sector.Work Permit for 3 yrs and greencard within 2 yrs as in 2000 is an excellent option for the workers

  4. In this pandemic, Australia can still boost education sector with safety measure;
    1) Reducing tuition fees
    2) Health screening by Australian embassy in overseas, not to rely on any country, government or organisation (just to make sure nobody comes with virus.
    3) Approving study loan for international student (e.g 30%, 50% study loan), which they will pay back within one year of their study completion.

  5. Australian know education Is one of key factor to boost economic,but It would have been blissful if they can put all these into consideration,which are illustrated below.
    1)ability to wrk while studies
    ) Tuition fees reduction
    3) screening health exercise within Australian embassy overseas.
    4)providing studies loan for student uptown 65%which must be paid back a year after completion of studies or before leaving d country
    5) Reduction in hostel and apartment.

  6. It is a great incentive to all international student and hope that Australian government will understand both dimensions as we face this crisis. Am new student and I would propose eased-balanced for new and continuing students…Kabue from Kenya.

  7. I love Australia and I will like to work there, please i need a guardline on how I can apply for a working visa

  8. I think this would be a bit helpful for international students but in just one of those international students’ views, there are still things we need to pay for extending the existing student visa such as student insurance fees and medical examination for the visa which are more expensive than the application fee.
    I actually spent lots of money on those things this year but couldn’t study anything and just came back to my home country which is so frustrating.
    So, it would be greatly better if we can get the extended visa one more year for free with the extended period of student insurance. Just personal opinion. Jay from South Korea.

  9. I applied to perth University, i got my admission but in mean time COVID 19 comes so now what i will do my classes were start on 5yh may but invain

  10. Thanks Mr Tudge. Your decisions to help international students will generate $40 billion in this critical time. Our economy is so much in debt. This is exactly what Australia needs. Hope you can speed up the process. The sooner the better. We need this urgently.

  11. My course had started and it is tough to do online. Looking forward Federal Government will allow us to return for face to face. As we are willing to pay our own quarantine cost.

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