Australian Government announces current student visa holders studying online outside Australia due to Covid-19 will also be allowed to count study towards work visa.
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, respond 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.
The announcement was cautiously welcomed but caused confusion in the university sector, which had demanded that current and future students gain the ability to study online.
Guardian Australia understands that despite being left off the announcement the concession will also apply to future students.
Australian universities face an estimated $16bn black hole due to a massive drop-off in international student numbers, compounded by warnings from China against its citizens coming to Australia to study.
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.
Universities Australia’s chief executive, Catriona Jackson, said she welcomed
“sensible changes to visa arrangements for those currently enrolled” but cautioned “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,” she said.