In a bid to maintain the integrity of their international education systems, Australia and New Zealand have introduced significant changes to student visa requirements and work rights. Students applying for an Australian student visa will face an increased Proof of Finance, while New Zealand is updating its in-study work rights. These updates are expected to affect the lives of thousands of international students who choose to study in these countries.
Australia Hikes Proof of Finance for Student Visa Applications:
Starting October 1, 2023, international students applying for an Australian student visa must show evidence of $24,505 in savings, marking a 17% increase from current financial requirements. The Australian government claims this change will ensure incoming students can support themselves and lessen the risk of exploitation due to a pressing need for employment.
Moreover, authorities will apply additional scrutiny to high-risk cohorts and require extra documentation to prevent fraud in applications. This update comes as the first change to financial capacity requirements since 2019.
Shutting Down Loopholes for Access to Work:
To protect genuine international students, Australia plans to close a loophole enabling education providers to move international students with less than six months in Australia from genuine study programs into arrangements that facilitate work access. As there has been a significant spike in usage of this function in 2023 (17,000 concurrent enrolments compared to around 10,500 in both 2019 and 2022), the government aims to preserve competitive educational services.
This package of measures is designed to help maintain Australia’s global reputation as an exceptional education provider, as emphasized by Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil.
Changes and Updates Impacting International Students in New Zealand and Technical University of Munich (TUM)
New Zealand has also made recent updates regarding its policies towards international students. Starting October 9, 2023, changes in-study work rights for students will be implemented when the new criteria for the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa take effect.
Significant changes have been made to in-study work instructions and the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa. These modifications remove certain references and clarify eligibility for in-study work rights. Consequently, all students pursuing a full-time program resulting in a New Zealand qualification at Level 4 or above on the NZQCF will be eligible for in-study work rights. However, training schemes and micro-credentials are not considered qualifications and, therefore, remain ineligible.
Moreover, students typically must be studying full time to qualify for both a student visa and in-study work rights. Exceptions apply to those completing a course of study that would qualify for points under the Skilled Migrant Category Resident Visa or those in their final semester of a program lasting at least two academic years. These exceptions accommodate students with part-time study loads in their last semester.
In other news, the Technical University of Munich (TUM) announced its plan to reintroduce tuition fees for non-European Union (EU) students applying from the winter semester of the 2024-25 academic year.
However, certain groups are exempt from paying fees. These include:
- Students already enrolled in their degree program at TUM before the winter semester of 2024/25.
- Students who obtained their higher education entrance qualification within the German education system or completed a degree program with a standard period of study of at least six semesters at a German university.
- Persons with an established domestic connection, regardless of their citizenship.
- Students with disabilities.
- Asylum seekers.
Overall, these changes and updates may impact both existing and future international students within these institutions.
Both Australia and New Zealand remain committed to upholding their international education systems’ integrity and supporting genuine international students. As a result, the recent updates in Australia’s student visa requirements and New Zealand’s in-study work rights are essential considerations for prospective international students planning to obtain an education in these countries.