Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson acknowledged that changes for existing international students would provide certainty for their future plans in Australia.
“It’s important that changes to visa processes ensure students get a fair go and are not disadvantaged by the impact of COVID-19.”
“While we welcome the sensible changes to visa arrangements for those currently enrolled, we need to understand what the changes mean for prospective students.”
“We believe that new, as well as current, students should be included in the amended arrangements for post study work rights. It is not clear that this is the case, and we continue to seek confirmation of this important point. Many new students will be adversely affected by COVID-19, and they should be treated the same as continuing students.”
“International students fund their own education and make an invaluable contribution to Australia’s culture and economy,” Ms Jackson said.
The changes include:
- The Government will recommence granting student visas in all locations lodged outside Australia. This means when borders re-open, students will already have visas and be ready to make arrangements to travel.
- International students will be able to lodge a further student visa application free of charge, if they are unable to complete their studies within their original visa validity due to COVID-19.
- Current student visa holders studying online outside Australia due to COVID-19 will be able to use that study to count towards the Australian study requirement for a post-study work visa.
- Graduates who held a student visa will be eligible to apply for a post-study work visa from outside Australia if they are unable to return due to COVID-19.
- Additional time will be given for applicants to provide English language results where COVID-19 has disrupted access to these services.
There are 1.4 million domestic and overseas students in Australia’s 39 universities. Of those, 412,435 are international students — approximately 29 per cent.
Ms Jackson said: “As a result of border closures, around 87,000 (or 22 per cent) of university students remain outside Australia. This proportion will grow as we enter second semester since nearly half of incoming international university students commence their studies in the second half of the year,” Ms Jackson said.