Australia’s international education industry has strengthened across the board, pushing student numbers to new record levels according to the latest data. But doubts have started to emerge over how long the country can maintain its growth streak.
Records continued to fall for Australian international education, but clouds are starting to form, as the country’s reliance on China increases.
The number of international students within Australia currently sits at 9.4% above the 554,200 for the whole of 2016
Year to October data, released by the Department of Education and Training, shows more than 606,700 international students have entered Australia so far in 2017, a 13% increase from the level achieved by the same time in 2016, while enrolments and commencements also experienced double-digit percentage growth.
“The more Australia can do to discover or seek out new markets, the better for the international education sector as a whole”
The surge in numbers has also pushed up total revenue, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicating the 12 months to September period grew to a landmark $29.4bn, up from $28.4bn last quarter.
The figure for students, enrolments and commencements as of October has already surpassed that for the whole of 2016.
The number of international students within Australia currently sits 9.4% above the 2016 total of 554,200, while enrolments and commencements – the number of new enrolments in a calendar year – are 7.5% and 2% higher, respectively.
English Australia noted September 2017’s figures were 6.7% down from September 2016
While the figures are welcomed in Australia, not all sectors and source markets experienced consistent improvements, casting doubt over how long the boom will last.
Although 3.3% above the previous year’s October figures, ELICOS stands alone as the only sector to not yet surpass 2016 totals, and after a strong first half of 2017, experienced two consecutive declines in commencements in August and September.
It was the only major sector to do so.
In its latest market analysis report, English Australia noted September 2017’s figures were 6.7% down from September 2016, representing “arguably the first poor month at the national aggregate level for ELICOS in recent years.”
Meanwhile, China further strengthened its position as Australia’s top source market, increasing 18% from the same period in 2016 and pushing its market share across all sectors from 27.5% to approximately 30%; reaching as high as 60% for some sectors.
The student visa program enables overseas students to come to Australia to undertake full-time study in registered courses.
When processing applications, the department ensures:
·transparency in the requirements to be granted a student visa
·consistency in decision-making
·integrity of the student visa program by using objective measures of risk to determine visa requirements.
Before applying for a student visa, students must have been accepted for full-time study in a registered course in Australia.
A registered course is an accredited education or training course listed on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) and offered by an Australian education provider registered to offer courses to overseas students. See:CRICOS
Applying for a student visa
Students must apply for a visa in the sector that relates to their main course of study:
·Independent English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS) sector (subclass 570) visa
·Schools sector (subclass 571) visa
·Vocational Education and Training sector (subclass 572) visa
·Higher Education sector (subclass 573) visa
·Postgraduate Research sector (subclass 574) visa
·Non-award sector (subclass 575) visa
·AusAID and Defence sector (subclass 576) visa.
Generally, only students subject to Assessment Level 1 or students eligible for streamlined visa processing may be granted their first student visa while they are in Australia. Other students may only be able to obtain their first student visa while they are in Australia under exceptional circumstances. See: Student Visa Program—Assessment Levels(formerly known as Form 1219i)(144KB PDF file)
Students who already have a student visa to study in Australia, but want to change their main course of study to one in a different education sector must apply for a new student visa in the education sector appropriate to their new main course of study. See:Applying for a student visa(formerly known as Form 1160i) (128KB PDF file)
Assessment factors and streamlined visa processing
Students must provide evidence to satisfy the assessment criteria that apply to them before they can be granted a student visa. This may include evidence that they have the financial capacity to cover living costs in Australia—tuition fees, travel costs and capacity to support any family members. Applicants must also satisfy criteria for proficiency in English, level of education and other matters such as the potential to breach visa conditions.
The evidence required for these criteria varies according to the student visa applicant’s assessment level. Assessment Level 1 represents the lowest evidentiary requirements and Assessment Level 5 represents the highest. See: Student Visa Program—Assessment Levels(formerly known as Form 1219i)(144KB PDF file)
Streamlined visa processing is available for prospective international students with a confirmation of enrolment (CoE) from a participating university at bachelor, masters or doctoral degree level. Student visa applicants who are eligible for streamlined visa processing are not subject to assessment levels. See: The university sector streamlined visa processing( 80KB PDF file)
All students and accompanying family members must meet character and health requirements and obtain overseas student health cover (OSHC) for the duration of their visa. Students from Belgium, Norway and Sweden may not need OSHC if they have acceptable health cover offered by those countries.
Passport holders from certain countries may be entitled to Medicare, however it is still a requirement for overseas students to obtain OSHC for the duration of their stay in Australia while on a student visa. See:Health insurance for students
Students may ‘package’ their studies to combine a preliminary course with their main course of study on the one student visa. The subclass that applies to the package would be the one that corresponds to the main course of study. The student’s assessment level is based on the package of courses they are studying. See: Course packaging
Students and dependent family members who were granted a student visa before 26 April 2008 and have not yet applied for permission to work may only apply for permission to work after they have started their course in Australia. See:How to apply for permission to work
Students and their dependent family members with permission to work must not undertake work until the main student visa holder has started their course in Australia. They are limited to 40 hours work per fortnight while their course is in session, but may work unlimited hours during formal holiday periods. Holders of a Postgraduate Research (subclass 574) visa who have started their course have unrestricted permission to work.
Student visa holders found to be working in excess of their limited work rights may be subject to visa cancellation.
Family members’ permission to work
Family members who have permission to work can work up to 40 hours per fortnight once the main student visa holder has started the course of study.
Where students are on a Higher Education (subclass 573) visa, Postgraduate (subclass 574) or AusAID and Defence (subclass 576) visa and have started a masters or doctorate course, any family member who has permission to work can do so for unlimited hours.
No extension of stay
Most Assessment Level 3 and all Assessment Level 4 students (except those in the schools sector) undertaking a course or courses of 10 months duration or less, are subject to a ‘Further Stay Restricted’ condition. This condition generally prevents students from extending their stay in Australia, although they may apply for a Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa or a student visa with permission to work or a student visa with permission to work.
If an Assessment Level 3 student provides evidence of funds to cover a further 12 month stay, the ‘Further Stay Restricted’ condition is no longer mandatory.
Students who are sponsored by the Australian Government, or the government of their home country, may also be subject to a ‘Further Stay Restricted’ condition. They will only be able to extend their studies in Australia if the sponsoring government gives written consent.
Change of address
Students must inform their education provider of their current residential address within seven days of arrival and of any change of address in Australia within seven days of the change. Students must also notify their current provider of any change of enrolment to a new provider.
Family members aged 18 years or over may only study for up to three months. If they want to undertake a course of study that exceeds three months, they must apply for a student visa in their own right.
School-age family members, children aged 5–18 years, who join the student in Australia for more than three months must attend school. The student must meet any associated education or tuition costs for that child.
A student’s child aged 18 years or over cannot apply for a student visa as a family member. If they want to study in Australia, they must apply for a student visa in their own right.
Student Guardian (subclass 580) visa
Where students are under 18 years of age, it is possible for a parent or relative to apply for a student guardian visa to accompany them to Australia. The student guardian visa allows that person to stay in Australia to care for the student until they turn 18. A student guardian does not have permission to work while in Australia.
The student visa program report is a quarterly statistical publication that provides data on the student visa program administered by the department. This report will be a valuable resource for anyone who has an interest in the international student sector. See:Student visa statistics
Further information for students
TheEducation Services for Overseas Student Act 2000provides important safeguards for overseas students in Australia. The Act regulates the activities of education providers delivering education and training to international students by setting standards and providing tuition and financial assurance. See:Australian Education International
If students choose to work part-time while studying in Australia they have the same work rights as Australian permanent residents and citizens. For more information and advice about conditions of employment in Australia students can contact the Fair Work Ombudsman. See:Fair Work Ombudsman
Further information is available on the department’s website. See:www.immi.gov.au
The department also operates a national general enquiries line. Telephone:131 881 Hours of operation:Monday to Friday from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm. Recorded information is available outside these hours.