University Of Melbourne Warns International Student Caps Will Harm Australia

University Of Melbourne Warns International Student Caps Will Harm Australia

The university emphasised that imposing caps on international student admissions would lead to substantial budget cuts, adversely affecting domestic students and potentially resulting in staff layoffs.

Siksha MUpdated: Thursday, June 20, 2024, 06:30 PM IST
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The University of Melbourne |

The University of Melbourne has voiced significant concerns regarding Australia’s proposed cap on international student numbers, warning that such a move could severely impact the higher education sector and tarnish the country’s reputation among prospective international students.

Impact of imposing cap on international students

According to the erudera reports, in a statement released, the university emphasised that imposing caps on international student admissions would lead to substantial budget cuts, adversely affecting domestic students and potentially resulting in staff layoffs. Michael Wesley, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global, Culture, & Engagement) at the University of Melbourne, criticised the plans, highlighting the negative consequences of such restrictions.

“These caps are penalising the sector for a temporary, larger-than-expected increase in student numbers due primarily to the pandemic lag effect,” Wesley stated. He further pointed out a concerning trend, stating, “The number of international students granted visas to come to Australia has decreased dramatically, with student visa grants down 34 percent in March compared to the same time in 2023.”

The university underscored that limiting international student numbers would reduce funding for teaching and research in already underfunded areas. This reduction could lead to staff cuts and the cancellation of programmes as early as next year. Furthermore, there may be major financial effects because, in 2023, expenditure by overseas students will account for more than half of Australia's economic growth.

“This is before Parliament and could be legislated without consultations with universities beforehand,” Wesley warned, stressing the urgency and potential oversight in the legislative process.

Aim to enhance the quality of education

The proposed cap is part of the Draft International Education and Skills Strategic Framework, aimed at enhancing the quality of education and student experience in Australia. The framework stipulates that universities wishing to admit more international students must provide additional purpose-built accommodations for both international and domestic students. Furthermore, newly registered higher education institutions must demonstrate a track record of quality courses for Australian students before enrolling international students.

As of March 2024, government data showed 741,224 international students in Australia, a 16 percent increase from pre-pandemic levels in March 2019. The top five countries sending students to Australia are China (22 percent), India (17 percent), Nepal (8 percent), the Philippines (5 percent), and Vietnam (5 percent).

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