An immigration expert has warned that a big step forward in Australia’s population growth makes it more likely that Canberra will put a cap on student visas like Canada does.
Abul Rizvi said that new numbers showing huge increases in Australia’s resident population would put pressure on the government to take action like the UK, which doesn’t allow family members of students to get visas, or Canada, which just announced that it will limit the number of students admitted at the provincial level.
Dr. Rizvi said, “I’m afraid that the government will…panic and do something just as stupid as the UK or Canada instead of having a sensible, well-thought-out plan for how to handle this.” “A cap seems like the most likely blunt object.”
Dr. Rizvi, who used to be the deputy secretary of Australia’s immigration department, said caps caused chaos and were “arbitrary.” “That sounds like an easy thing to do.” It’s actually very complicated if you look into it. There is no control over how it affects different groups of people in different ways.
According to a tweet from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the number of people living in Australia reached 27 million on the afternoon of January 24. This was the country’s biggest growth spurt ever.
The ABS Population Clock showed that the important event happened decades earlier than expected. Australia’s first Intergenerational Report, which came out in 2002, said that the population would not reach 25 million for another 40 years.
The Population Clock now says that the number will go over 28 million in 2025 and over 30 million in 2030.
Some people’s feelings were shown in the replies to the ABS tweet. “No one wanted this,” one person answered. “That rate of growth seems too high and can’t be maintained,” said someone else. “Why are you celebrating the loss of so many people in our country?” asked a third.
Based on the data we have so far, Dr. Rizvi said that the net increase in permanent and long-term temporary residents, which includes students, was 90,000 more this financial year than it was during the same time last year. “Alarm bells would be ringing” in government hallways, he said.
“I think the government is scared about lowering net migration this year.” And I think their main way of responding is to make it more likely for students to refuse. I think that Australia will turn down a lot more student visas in 2023–24 than at any other time in history. 2023–24 will look like the Eiger if you look at the number of student visas that were turned down over the last 20 years.
Based on data from the Department of Home Affairs, this may already be happening. About one-sixth to one-third of overseas requests for visas to study at a university in Australia are turned down by immigration officials. For vocational education visas, the same thing happens every other request.
India and Nepal are two of the most important source markets, and the rejection rates are much higher there. Each month, the number of applications for higher education visas and sometimes all applications for vocational education visas went up.
Dr. Rizvi said he thought immigration officials had been told to “refuse as many as you can,” though this was probably not in writing. It was a “unsustainable strategy” to stop population growth, and not just because it was unfair to people who were applying for visas.
“That huge number of refusals uses up a lot of resources, since turning down a visa is much more expensive than turning it in.” It’s not possible to keep asking the overseas post to reject so many applications based on vague grounds.