International students continue to shun Australia

Late last year, the Morrison Government announced reforms to visa arrangements to ensure a “rapid return of international students”.

The reforms included:

  • granting a two year Temporary Graduate visa to Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector graduates; and
  • extending the temporary graduate visa from two to three years for masters by coursework graduates.

According to the latest arrivals data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), released yesterday, student arrivals have failed to rebound, with only 28,290 arriving in the three months to March 2022. This was well below the 113,230 that arrived in the same period in 2020 and the 238,760 that arrived in the same period in 2019:

Quarterly international student arrivals

In the year to March 2022, only 35,580 international students arrived in Australia, down massively from 561,040 in the year to March 2020 and the 610,270 arrivals in the year to March 2019:

Annual international student arrivals

Australia is facing intense competition for international students from nations like Canada, which have increased access to work rights and permanent residency. As such, Australia is no longer viewed as a preferred destination for international education.

Given the overwhelming majority of Australians do not support a return to mass immigration, most Aussies will be satisfied with this situation. Lower student arrival numbers means the federal government’s insane 240,000 net overseas migration target will be much harder to achieve.

International education has become Australia’s major funnel for our immigration program. Many students came to Australia primarily for work rights and permanent residency, rather than for education purposes.

Basically, universities became ‘middle-men’ to Australia’s immigration system, behaving like migration agents and running degree factories to maximise student fees. Universities lowered entry standards to maximise student numbers, and the ultimate result was a lower quality system.

International student numbers should never be allowed to return to their insane pre-pandemic levels.

Unconventional Economist


  1. Will LibLab finally give voters a hearing? Not a chance. The incoming LibLab Government will promptly announce a raft of new and more desperate measures to pump the mass-migration addiction again. Despite the positive lessons of the COVID immigration freeze, they simply cannot begin to conceive of any change in national direction.

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      The problem is Universities have come to rely on international students for Funding.
      If a political party, lets say Labor, announce that they are going to replace that with Government money then the Corporate media will immediately attack the announcement by asking, “How are you going to pay for it?” and start a relentless “these guys want to charge you citizens more Taxes”, campaign.

      Our having the highest per capita foreign student numbers in the world is a Direct result of adhering to the Neoliberal Privatisation and small Government is always better ideology.
      If you dont change that, ya got Buckley’s chance of seeing lower immigration over the long term.

    • More on this… it is big.
      The National Immigration Administration is restricting non-essential foreign travel by PRC citizens. This move makes sense in the context of doing more to prevent import of virus, but it is prompting a lot of concerns that something bigger is at play and these restrictions will stay even when the pandemic finally ends some day.

      The government can not say PRC Citizens are blocked from returning to the motherland, so they have made it almost impossible by limiting plane seats back, and now if you can’t leave you can’t try to return. There have been reports in social media over last couple of weeks of passports being taken at exit control, tourist visas to other countries being torn up, even US green cards being taken.

      These new measures may be especially terrible for mixed nationality families that want to leave, as PRC passport holding spouses/kids may be blocked from departing.

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