Dozens of Australian ‘ghost colleges’ to be sent warning notices in international student visa crackdown

Headshot of Katina Curtis
Katina Curtis
The Nightly
Federal Skills Minister Brendan O’Connor..
Federal Skills Minister Brendan O’Connor.. Credit: Ian Munro/The West Australian

Dodgy education providers who the Government suspects are offering backdoor entry to work rights in Australia will be issued warning notices within weeks as the latest crackdown on international student numbers comes into effect.

Tougher English language requirements will also start on Saturday along with a new “genuine student” test intended to weed out people looking to come to Australia primarily to work, not study.

The measures are part of the Government’s migration strategy to reduce the number of temporary visa holders in Australia.

Sign up to The Nightly's newsletters.

Get the first look at the digital newspaper, curated daily stories and breaking headlines delivered to your inbox.

Email Us
By continuing you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.

A key problem uncovered was many people were using international student visas as a pathway to working rights and ultimately permanent residency when they were not the type of highly skilled migrants the country most needed to attract.

Some were coming through “visa factories” or “ghost colleges” with no real intention of gaining a qualification.

In the coming weeks, dozens of these high-risk providers will be issued with warning notices under the new laws, giving them six months to clear up their act or be suspended from recruiting international students.

“There is no place for dodgy providers in the sector who take advantage of international students and undermine the sector and the majority of providers who do the right thing,” Skills and Training Minister Brendan O’Connor said.

The number of international students and backpackers coming to Australia has skyrocketed in the wake of pandemic-era border closures ending.

Some of this is pent-up demand but the Government wants to make sure the increased level doesn’t become permanent.

The Opposition has already been exploiting the high migration level politically, linking it to the housing shortage and high real estate prices which rocketed up during the pandemic.

Fresh population data being released on Thursday is expected to add fire to their arguments, with the Government tipping the figures will show more than 150,000 migrants arrived in the three months to September 2023.

But it anticipates this will be near the peak of migration numbers, since it will reflect the period before the measures under the new strategy came into effect.

Long-term population forecasts still project lower numbers overall than Australia was on track for before the pandemic.

“Since September, the Government’s actions have led to substantial declines in migration levels, with recent international student visa grants down by 35 oer cent on the previous year,” Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said.

“The actions this weekend will continue to drive migration levels down while delivering on our commitments in the migration strategy to fix the broken system we inherited.”

Latest Edition

The front page of The Nightly for 24-06-2024

Latest Edition

Edition Edition 24 June 202424 June 2024

What a climate change. Albo takes punt on this once pro-nuclear Liberal to lead his renewable energy battle.