Australia student visa approval rates declining due to new immigration policies

In the first half of Australia's fiscal year, almost 1 out of 5 student visa applications got refused. This is a higher refusal rate than in the last three years.

In the second part of 2023, Australia made new rules to stop people pretending to be students and using tricks to work in the country. These rules seem to be working, as data from the Department of Home Affairs says that 19% of students asking for visas were told no in the first part of Australia's money year.

If this continues, it's expected that about 91,715 fewer students will get visas in 2023/24 compared to the previous year, which is about a 15% drop from the 577,295 visas given in 2022/23.

Australia's recent changes to immigration policies, introduced in December 2023, are designed to be more specific, favoring certain applicants over others. Students face a tougher application process due to increased requirements, such as higher English-language proficiency and a mandatory "Genuine Student Test" aimed at identifying those genuinely focused on studying and contributing essential skills to the Australian economy. This particularly impacts students pursuing lower-level credentials, as the focus shifts towards those who can bring valuable skills to the country.

Other aspects of Australia's updated approach to the international sector include scrutinizing high-risk student applications, cracking down on untrustworthy education providers, strengthening the student visa integrity unit in the Department of Home Affairs to prevent misuse of the system, and enhancing requirements for international education providers.

The heightened scrutiny has led to increased visa refusal rates as immigration officials now have more tools to identify non-genuine students. The Department of Home Affairs emphasizes the importance of refusing visas to applicants presenting fraudulent documents, engaging in fraud related to English language testing, making non-genuine claims, or having non-genuine subsequent marriages.

Education Minister Jason Clare underscores the government's commitment to preventing student exploitation and safeguarding Australia's reputation as a high-quality international education provider.

Australia's new way of involving other countries is also reducing the overall number of people moving in. The government wanted this to happen when they made the rules. Similar to what's happening in Canada, the large number of new students coming to Australia lately has caused a problem with finding affordable places to live. This housing issue has made people less supportive of bringing in more immigrants.

According to, the most recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) indicates that the total number of people moving in and out of the country has started to go down. The monthly arrivals are finally decreasing from the very high numbers they reached before, as shown in the chart. In the recent months, countries like Australia, Canada, and the UK have made changes to how they let international students come in. They did it in different ways:

  • Canada is limiting the number of new study permits for the next two years and has other rules.
  • The UK doesn't let most international students bring their family members with them.
  • Australia is being more specific, making lots of small changes to discourage certain types of students, agents, and schools from misusing the system.

The latest data from the Department of Home Affairs suggests that Australia's changes might lead to about 15% fewer visas in 2023/24 (if the current refusal rate stays the same). This reduction could be less compared to what might happen in Canada and the UK.

In Canada, many students can't get their study permits processed right now, which will already reduce the number of students coming in this year. The two-year limit and other measures will also have an impact. In the UK, students from top countries are already showing less interest due to the new rule about not bringing family members.

But in Australia, the government seems to be balancing the value of international students to the economy with the need for a fair system. The rules and government statements show that the focus is on stopping students who aren't genuine, not on reducing demand from all international students.

Source: ICEF

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