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Int’l numbers “too high” – Australian opposition

A former Australian minister who has previously promoted the country as a “destination of choice for international students” has claimed that the number of students is now “too high”.

Shadow immigration minister Dan Tehan cited issues in housing and access to GP services. Photo: pexels

Shadow immigration minister, Dan Tehan, told Sky News Australia that the half a million student applications this year is a “record”.

“We saw in the last financial year over half a million international students come to this country,” he said.

“We think we’re on track to see half a million come the calendar year up until December… Even though they’re not processing as many applications, we’re still getting record numbers of international students.

“It’s too high. We have a housing crisis, we have a rental crisis, people can’t get to see their GP, we’re getting growing congestion in our capital cities.”

In December, Australia’s current government – led by Antony Albanese from the Labor Party – announced “integrity measures” as part of a migration strategy, including a new Genuine Student Test and changes in length to some graduate visas.

“We’re still getting record numbers of international students”

Immigration minister Jason Clare has led on policy seeking to eliminate the “shonks” in the sector that he says are exploiting students and have returned since the re-opening of the country’s border after the pandemic.

The Australian has reported that number of student visa holders will drop by more than 90,000 this financial year, as Home Affairs 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”.

“We’re going to need to see more than this [from the government],” Tehan, who was minister for education for two years up until December 2020, added.

In December, Tehan said, “Obviously, there is a place for international students as well, but in the last 18 months under this Labor government, it’s got completely out of whack.

“That isn’t good for the international students in this country, it’s not good for our reputation,” he added.

During his tenure under prime minister Scott Morrison between 2018 and 2020, Tehan sought to urge opportunities at regional and rural campuses for international students, at the same time as continuing to bring them to city campuses.

However, during the pandemic, Tehan called for more focus on offshore, online and blended learning, as well as new models of delivery, such as micro-credentials.

The former minister was said to have a softer position on international education than his boss while he was in the post of education minister.

While Morrison was pushing to dissuade overseas students away from the cities of Sydney and Melbourne – plans which were derided by the industry – Tehan said that “excellence must come from the sector” in partnership with local communities, rather than from government.

Labor criticised the government at the time of mismanaging Australia’s urban growth and singling out and targeting different cultural groups.

Former shadow assistant minister for Universities from the Labor Party, Louise Pratt, told The PIE in 2018 that international student populations “add a great deal of value” to cities, including growing the economy and jobs.

However, a trade subcommittee last year urged government to “review and consider” the establishment of campuses in Central Business District – where students are “largely international” and teaching sub-contracted – as part a 29-recommendation report.

Other recommendations called for tightened agent regulation, more on international student employment and increased efforts to diversify international student source countries.

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