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"Slight reduction in students from lower-income backgrounds": Expert on Australia doubling int'l student visa fee

Australia's recent hike in visa fees for international students has caused significant concern among Indian students and their families. To understand the implications of this change, we spoke with Subhakar Alapati, Founder Director, Global Tree Careers who provided insights into how this fee increase will affect the demand for Australian education, financial challenges faced by students, and potential strategies to navigate this new landscape
Q

What is the current scenario in Australia for international education?

A

The current scenario in Australia for international education is different the United Kingdom (UK), the United States (US) and Canada.

Visa requirements have become stricter, with tougher criteria from universities making admissions more difficult. Many students are struggling to meet these high standards, leading to a decrease in the number of students going to Australia.

The combination of complex visa processes and stringent university requirements has made it harder for international students to pursue their education in Australia, resulting in a decline in student numbers.

Q

How do you anticipate the recent hike in Australia's visa fees for international students?

A

The increase in visa fees is likely to have a marginal impact on the number of applications from Indian students. While Australia remains a popular destination due to its high-quality education, the additional financial burden could deter some students to consider more countries as an option. We expect to see a short-term decline.

However, the overall demand might stabilise in the long run as students adjust their financial plans or seek alternative funding sources.

Q

What financial challenges do you foresee for Indian students and their families due to the increased visa fees?

A

The increased visa fees add to the already substantial cost of studying in Australia which could fall between 50-80,000 AUD, including tuition, living expenses, and travel costs. For many Indian families, this means taking on additional financial strain.

We have noticed an immediate rise in inquiries about scholarships and financial aid options.

A few students are also exploring more affordable alternatives, such as studying in countries with lower fees or opting for shorter courses to minimise overall expenses.

Q

How does the visa fee hike in Australia compare to similar fee changes in other popular study destinations? 

A

Compared to other popular study destinations, Australia's visa fee hike is significant but not unprecedented. For instance, the UK has also increased its visa fees in recent years, yet remains a top choice for Indian students due to its reputed institutions and work opportunities.

Canada, known for its relatively stable visa policies, offers a more predictable financial planning landscape. Indian students should do their research and compare various destinations, understanding all associated costs, and exploring diverse funding sources. 

Q

Do you expect a significant shift in preference among Indian students towards other study abroad destinations due to the increased costs associated with Australian visas?

A

Countries like Canada and Germany, which offer competitive education and relatively lower visa fees, might see an increase in applications from Indian students.

Additionally, countries with post-study work opportunities and more straightforward immigration processes will become more attractive.

While Australia has unique advantages, the financial aspect is a crucial factor for many families, and they might choose destinations that offer a better balance between cost and educational quality.

Q

What strategies do you recommend for students and their families to cope with the increased visa fees? 

A

We recommend students and families start planning their finances early, exploring all available funding options. Scholarships offered by Australian universities and external organisations can significantly offset costs.

Additionally, some banks and financial institutions provide education loans with favourable terms. Students should also consider part-time work opportunities available in Australia to help manage living expenses. We are addressing these financial concerns by providing detailed information on alternative funding options, including scholarships, grants, and education loans. We also offer financial planning workshops and one-on-one counselling to help families create a sustainable financial plan.

Our goal is to ensure that deserving students are not deterred by the visa fee hike.

Q

What long-term effects do you predict this visa fee hike will have on the overall flow of Indian students to Australia for higher education?

A

In the long term, the visa fee hike may lead to a more discerning group of applicants who are better financially prepared and highly committed to their studies in Australia. However, there could be a slight reduction in the overall number of students from lower-income backgrounds.

Australian institutions may need to increase their efforts in offering financial aid and scholarships to maintain the influx of international students.

The long-term impact will largely depend on how effectively these institutions can mitigate the financial challenges posed by the fee hike.

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