Australia announced an increase in visa fees for international students, more than doubling the previous amount to A$1,600 from A$710. The adjustment aims to manage the surge in migration, which has exacerbated pressure on the housing market. The decision comes as part of broader efforts by the government to reform the immigration system, emphasizing fairness and efficiency.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil highlighted the rationale behind the fee hike, stating that the changes coming into force that day would help restore integrity to the international education system and create a migration system that is fairer, smaller, and better able to deliver for Australia. Recent official figures revealed a significant 60% rise in net immigration to a record 548,800 individuals for the year ending September 30, 2023. The increased visa costs now position Australia’s student visa fees well above those of competing countries like the United States and Canada, where fees are approximately $185 and C$150 ($110) respectively. The government also outlined plans to close loopholes that previously allowed international students to extend their stay continuously, resulting in a notable 30% surge in students on subsequent visas to over 150,000 in the 2022–2023 period. This move follows a series of regulatory adjustments since late last year, including stricter English language requirements in March and an increase in the financial prerequisites for visa applicants to A$29,710 ($19,823) from A$24,505 in May, marking the second rise in seven months. Luke Sheehy, CEO of Universities Australia, expressed concern about the sustained policy pressures affecting the sector, cautioning that such measures jeopardize Australia’s competitive position and its economic reliance on international student fees. The international education industry constitutes a cornerstone of Australia’s economy, contributing A$36.4 billion in the fiscal year 2022-2023.