The Morrison Government will introduce further targeted measures to support the international education sector to roar back, as international borders reopen.
More than $37 million will be available to support those international education providers most affected by COVID-19. Extended regulatory fee waivers and additional grants are elements of this.
In addition, changes to visa settings will also provide much needed flexibility for international students as they set to return to Australia.
The new settings will extend measures to protect the post-study work rights of international students as well as extend the temporary graduate visa from two to three years for masters by coursework graduates.
Minister for Education and Youth Alan Tudge said the announcement would accelerate the COVID-19 recovery process for the 2022 academic year.
“This will help ensure the rapid return of international students,” Minister Tudge said.
“It provides clear incentives for institutions and students and ensures students are not disadvantaged from being prevented from coming to Australia earlier.
“The extension of the Innovation Grants will help English language providers who have been hit particularly hard by COVID.”
While the latest data (as at August 2021) shows international student enrolments are down 17 per cent overall compared to August 2019, the ELICOS sector has experienced the greatest decline in enrolments at 71 per cent for that same period.
Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alex Hawke said changes to visa settings for the international education sector gave students some much needed reprieve as Australia’s borders were set to reopen.
“The changes are targeted to not only support international students but are also a crucial component of our economic recovery and will help us retain and attract skilled workers.”
The package includes:
- $27.8 million in regulatory fee relief for the duration of 2022, including certain fees for Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency (TEQSA), Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) registrations, and the Tuition Protection Service (TPS) Levy.
- Extension of the current FEE-HELP loan fee exemption until 31 December 2022, benefiting around 30,000 undergraduate higher education students studying at institutes of higher education and public universities.
- An additional $9.4 million to extend the Innovation Development Fund, delivering further short-term targeted support to private English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) providers to diversify their education offerings into online and offshore delivery.
The new visa settings mean:
- Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa holders who have been unable to travel to Australia as a result of COVID-19 international border restrictions will be able to apply for a replacement visa. This will allow current and former Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa holders whose visas expired on or after 1 February 2020 to re-apply for a new subclass 485 visa of the same duration as their original visa.
- Additionally, the Morrison Government will increase the length of stay on the Temporary Graduate visa from two to three years for Masters by coursework graduates, matching that of Masters by research graduates. Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector graduates will also receive a two year Temporary Graduate visa.
- The new visa settings will also extend existing measures for students and temporary graduates to recognise time spent offshore studying online to count towards qualifying for a temporary graduate visa.
These measures will support implementation of the soon-to-be-released Australian Strategy for International Education.