Australia will recommence granting international student visas and allow current students to count online study while overseas in a push to restart international education

The changes, announced by acting immigration minister Alan Tudge on Monday, responding to demands from the university sector to help it attract international students and revive what was Australia’s third-largest export before the Covid-19 recession.

Tudge said the government would change student visa arrangements to “ensure Australia remains a priority destination for international students as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Under the changes:

  • The government will recommence granting student visas, allowing travel to Australia as soon as borders reopen
  • International students will be able to lodge an additional student visa application free if Covid-19 prevented them completing study under their original visa
  • 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.“We believe that new, as well as current, students should be included in the amended arrangements for post-study work rights,” she mentioned.

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    “It just isn’t clear that that is the case, and we proceed to search affirmation of this vital level.“Many new students will be adversely affected by Covid-19, and they should be treated the same as continuing students.”Group of Eight universities interim chair, Margaret Gardner, the vice-chancellor of Monash University, mentioned the group was “pleased government has recognised the need for flexibility around visa settings in the current circumstances”.“This will ensure students who have been forced to study offshore due to travel restrictions will still have access to post-study work rights.”

    Tudge mentioned the adjustments have been “guided by the principles that the health of Australians is key, but those international students should not be further disadvantaged by Covid-19”.

    “We are a welcoming nation with a world-class schooling system and a number of the lowest charges of Covid-19 on this planet.

    “Students want to study here and we want to welcome them back in a safe and measured way when it is safe to do so.”

    The schooling minister, Dan Tehan, mentioned Australia’s “remarkable efforts in controlling the spread of the virus mean we can begin to welcome back international students in a Covid-safe way once state borders reopen and face-to-face learning resumes”.

    Although the federal government has guaranteed its $18bn contribution to universities, it has effectively excluded them from wage subsidies, contributing to big job cuts at institutions including Monash and the University of New South Wales.

    Australians universities have begun drawing up plans to allow international students to return to the country under a series of pilot schemes.

    The first approved pilot at the Australian National University and the University of Canberra was placed on maintain indefinitely as coronavirus instances spiked in Victoria, regardless of the federal authorities suggesting a border ban with Victoria would not be a bar to pilots going ahead.

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