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International Student Numbers Plunge in Western Australia

WA’s multi-billion-dollar education sector needs international students to survive, so will new figures showing a slump in students choosing to study in WA spell trouble?

Official Department of Immigration and Border Protection figures from April 2017 show that student visa grants are down 32 percent in WA compared to 2015/16 with an 11 percent drop to May. More international students are opting for east coast destinations, with the rest of Australia showing an increasing trend.

At Modern Migration Australia, our migration agents in Perth provide specialised advice on living, studying and working in Australia. For both international students and their families, we make the visa application process smooth and straightforward.

Find out more about our concerns for the slowing number of international students calling WA home.

What’s Causing the Drop?

Changes to student visa system rules – including the tightening of English entry requirements by the Federal and the act of State Premier Mark McGowan – are reducing WA’s ability to appeal to international students.

In March 2017, the Premier announced the closure of Perth as an approved region for the RSMS visa; one allowing companies to employ an overseas person once they have proven that they cannot fill a skilled vacancy locally. The Premier defended this decision by emphasising a commitment to keeping jobs in the state.

In contrast to this, numerous economic studies have found that skilled migration creates more jobs, with migrants bringing funds from their home country and boosting economic activity in Australia. Migrants also tend to be relatively young, acting as a vital factor balancing the workforce as WA’s ageing population grows.

The change has had no effect on providing more jobs for WA workers as international students already hold the rights to work with their current visas. The closure of the RSMS visa scheme affects less than just 300 visas in the trade occupations, out of the approximately 2000 RSMS visas issues in Perth annually.

What results is a move that seems to deter international students from choosing WA by limiting opportunities for success and involvement in the workforce.

WA’s Dwindling Incentive

These announcements turn prospective students away from choosing WA to study. While Perth was boosted as a regional centre as part of the RSMS scheme, the now-closed city has become less of a priority destination – particularly for applicants from China – as work visas become more difficult to obtain. With less incentive for students to come to WA, more are choosing Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

According to research, around 59,000 international students contribute significant fees and spending to WA’s local economy. A drop in enrolments will hurt one of the few growing WA export industries: the $2 billion international education sector.

Other states have recognised the economic spin off from the international student market. Queensland, Tasmania, NT, ACT, SA and Victoria all offer incentives in the form of state sponsorship for international students who choose their state. With WA offering minimal, it’s becoming even harder for us as a state to keep up.

Get Expert Advice From the Registered Migration Agents in Perth

For reliable advice on studying and living in Australia, whether in WA or in other Australian states, the immigration agents at Modern Migration Australia can help.

Contact our registered migration agents for personalised advice on visas, requirements, conditions and applications. Call us on (08) 6555 7718.