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Australia tightens student visa rules as migration hits record high

Australia is set to enforce stricter student visa regulations as migration scales new peaks, stressing the tight rental housing market even further.
Starting this weekend, foreign students will face higher English language standards and graduate visa criteria. Additionally, education institutions could be banned from accepting international students if they consistently violate the regulations.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil stated that these measures aim to reduce migration and repair the flawed system left by the previous administration. A new "genuine student test" will also be introduced to deter those coming mainly to work, and certain visitor visas will include "no further stay" conditions.

These changes come after last year's elimination of temporary COVID-19 measures, which included lifting work hour limits for international students. The prior government had predicted that stricter rules could cut migrant numbers by half over two years.

In 2022, Australia increased its migration cap to address labor shortages post-pandemic, which strained the rental market due to a sudden surge of foreign workers and students.

Recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data indicates a 60% jump in net migration—reaching a record 548,800 for the year ending September 30, 2023—pushing the population up by 2.5% to 26.8 million.

This wave of migrants, mainly from India, China, and the Philippines, has increased the workforce, keeping wages stable but intensifying housing market pressure with low rental vacancies and high construction costs.

O'Neil noted that government efforts have already led to reduced migration, including a 35% drop in international student visa approvals compared to the previous year.

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