International education in Australia – Update June 2024


Visa Grant Decline in 2024

The latest data release from the Australian government reveals a significant drop in study visa grants to offshore applicants. A total of 74,421 study visas were granted from January through April 2024, marking a nearly 30% decline from the 104,808 granted in the same period in 2023.

To put this into perspective, the decline for the first four months of this year compares to a 53% drop in visas granted to offshore students between 2019/20 and 2020/21 during the height of the pandemic.


Approval Rates Drop

Data from the Department of Home Affairs shows that overall approval rates for offshore applicants from January-April 2024 fell to 77.4%, compared to 80.5% the previous year. Historically, the approval rate for offshore applicants has never dipped below 80% except for these first four months of 2024. The average approval rate over the past 18 years was just under 90%.


Approval rates for the ELICOS and VET sectors dropped to 74.8% and 37.8%, respectively. A recent analysis from English Australia highlights the significant impact, noting that “ELICOS-only grant rate has fallen to record lows.” For instance, Colombian ELICOS-only grants for offshore applications were 32% for the first two months of 2024, compared to 95% in 2023 and a 10-year average of 86%.


New Migration Settings

The immediate-term effects of new migration settings introduced by the Australian government in December 2023 are becoming evident. These measures include an increase in minimum funds requirements, the establishment of a cap on international enrollments (to be implemented in January 2025), and new measures to prevent onshore students from transitioning among visa classes. Prospective students now face higher savings requirements, stricter English proficiency standards, and must pass a “Genuine Student Test.”


Student visa caps

In response to the recent migration policy changes, the Australian government announced the implementation of a cap on international student enrollments, set to take effect in January 2025. This move aims to regulate the influx of international students and ensure that migration benefits align more closely with the nation’s economic and labor market needs. The cap is part of a broader strategy introduced in December 2023, which also includes higher financial and English proficiency requirements for student visa applicants. Industry feedback has been critical, with stakeholders like Troy Williams, Chief Executive of the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA), warning that these restrictions could jeopardize the financial recovery of educational institutions post-COVID-19 and lead to significant job losses.


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