Media reports from the country suggest that the Genuine Temporary Entrant requirement, used by authorities to determine whether students are coming to the country temporarily to gain a quality education, could be changed.
Home Affairs already states that the GTE is “not intended to exclude” students who go on to apply for permanent residence after graduating from Australian institutions.
New reforms, however, will allow prospective students to express their intent to migrate in their visa applications, reports say.
The Australian said that the Albanese government is planning switch from the Genuine Temporary Entrant requirement to a new Genuine Student Test. Nothing has yet been confirmed by government.
Minister for education Jason Clare said on August 22 that his department is working with the ministers for Home Affairs and Skills and Training to combat “serious challenges in international education”.
“Dodgy and unscrupulous players… are trying to take advantage [of students, and] manipulate the system and undermine it,” he said.
“This is a serious threat to the integrity of one of our biggest exports and it has got to be stamped out… We are working on this together and you can expect reforms to be announced soon.”
Earlier this year, founder and CEO of SIEC, Sonya Singh, suggested at The PIE Live Australia 2023 conference that Australia could be losing market share as a result of current regulations.
In her experience, students who indicate they are interested in part-time work or post-study work rights leading to migration “almost become criminal” in the view of officials.
Stakeholders in the US have for years been calling on authorities there to remove the dual intent allowance which means applicants cannot communicate an interest in staying in the country after the completion of their degree.
It is expected that this change in policy in Australia could put it ahead of other study destinations.
At The PIE Live Australia, Ethan Fogarty from Navitas, also pointed to “a desire to change that genuine temporary interim requirement to a genuine student requirement”.
Chief executive at IEAA, Phil Honeywood, also revealed at the conference in Gold Coast that each peak body in Australia would nominate a representative to sit on a working group to work “with home affairs to design a new genuine student test”.
“Too many genuine student applicants have been denied entry merely for being honest”
“Too many genuine student applicants have been denied entry merely for being honest about what they hope to achieve when they graduate with a world-class Australian qualification,” he said this week.
There is a risk Australia is “cutting off our nose despite our face” by passing up the opportunity to welcome graduates who can fill skills gaps, especially in STEM and allied health, he added.
Group of Eight chief executive Vicki Thomson said allowing students to indicate a desire to migrate to Australia will help to fill critical workforce shortages.
“Australia is facing a serious skills shortage in areas where we have a large proportion of international students such as engineering and information technology,” Thomson told The Australian.
“The Genuine Temporary Entrant requirement is out of step with Australia’s current skills needs. Why wouldn’t we take advantage of the opportunity to retain young people who have actively sought to come here and completed degrees under an Australian system?”
Shadow minister for education in Australia, Sarah Henderson, said that the Albanese government amendments will open the door “to more migration agents and overseas students rorting the system”.
Henderson also criticised government policy that she said will see 1.5 million people arriving in Australia over five years, half of whom will be international students.
That will have “big consequences” for domestic students who she said “need access to strong job prospects and affordable housing to thrive and succeed”.
There are also concerns that changes could lead to an upsurge in fake study visa submissions.
Henderson also warns that the “Albanese government has no economic plan to deliver the affordable housing and other infrastructure necessary to support such a large influx of migrants”.
Prime minister Anthony Albanese has described a $3 billion funding commitment to build 1.2 million homes over the next five years as “the most significant reforms to housing policy in a generation”.
“It makes sense to capitalise on this talent base”
“If universities are going to continue to sell the dream of an Australian education overseas, they must take greater responsibility to ensure that students don’t end up couch surfing, just to make ends meet,” Henderson said.
“The Opposition is carefully considering how universities can be held to account for their current practices which, far too often, put students last.”
A report set to be released this week in Australia is likely to confirm that Australia’s population growth is slowing and its population is ageing, Go8’s Thomson added.
“Go8 universities attract some of the world’s best and brightest, and it makes sense to capitalise on this talent base,” she explained.