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Australian study visa grants drop sharply in 2024

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Australia’s study visa grants have declined by nearly 30 per cent for the first four months of this year, according to a report by the country’s Department of Home Affairs. From January to April this year, a total of 74,421 study visas were granted to offshore applicants, marking a substantial decline as compared to the 1,04,808 visas granted during the corresponding period in 2023.

To put the overall decline for the first four months of this year in context, it's noteworthy that this decline contrasts with a larger drop of 53 per cent in visas granted to offshore students between 2019-20 and 2020-21, coinciding with the onset of the pandemic, says an ICEF Monitor report.

Programs affected:
The vocational education and training (VET) and English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) sectors have faced significant challenges in the current year, experiencing declines of 69% and 56% respectively in visa grants.

Apart from the pandemic period, these figures represent the lowest levels of visa grants for both sectors in a decade or more.

Together, these sectors contributed to nearly two-thirds (61%) of the total decrease in visa grants during the January-April period this year, according to the ICEF report.

Effect of New Migration Policies:
These numbers offer clear evidence of the short-term impacts resulting from the Australian government's revised migration policies introduced in December 2023. This marked the onset of a series of measures aimed at curtailing student migration, including heightened minimum funds criteria, the introduction of a cap on international enrollments (scheduled for implementation in January 2025), and, most recently, additional measures to inhibit onshore students from switching between visa categories.

Since January, there has been a growing number of instances where visa applications are being turned down, leading to demands for more openness in the visa approval process. Essentially, under the updated migration regulations, aspiring students are required to demonstrate increased savings, improved English skills, and successfully pass a "Genuine Student Test", the report says.

UK sees dip in Indian Student Visa issuances
Meanwhile, in comparison to the previous year, there was a 15.7% drop in the number of visas issued to Indian students by the UK, totaling 116,455 visas, according to an ApplyBoard report. This was the only instance of H1 visa issuances for Indian students dropping over the past six years.

Although, Indian students were issued the highest number of student visas in the UK by the year ending March 2024.

While the dependents policy likely played some part in this decline, Indian students brought dependents with them at the exact same rate as the UK average in 2023: 0.31 dependants per main applicant, the report says.

Other variables, such as uncertainty surrounding the Graduate Route or general hesitancy to commit during a change-packed year, could also be driving down new student populations from India, adds the report.

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