• Tuesday, May 21, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

These strict visa rules continue to pose a challenge for international students

These strict visa rules continue to pose a challenge for international students

Recent shifts in international education policies, compounded by economic challenges, have begun to tarnish the appeal of Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, once revered as beacons of higher education globally.

Studying in Australia, Canada, and the UK tends to be attractive due to their high-quality education, research opportunities, and standard of living. Their universities excel academically and offer a global perspective for a competitive job market.

Cities like Melbourne, Toronto, and London are renowned for their diversity, safety, and vibrant student life, making them ideal destinations for enriching study experiences.

Over the past decade, international student enrollment in these countries has surged due to aggressive recruitment strategies, scholarships, and post-study work opportunities.

However, recent data shows a decline in demand from Nigeria for studies in Canada (-5% between February 2023 and January 2024).

Some institutions report decreases in international applications and enrollments, indicating a shifting landscape that warrants closer examination of underlying causes.

Top universities globally, such as the University of Melbourne, University of Toronto, and University of Oxford, maintain their reputation for academic excellence and attract international students.

However, concerns over cost, employment prospects, and policy changes are overshadowing their prestige.

Rising living costs in Australia, Canada, and the UK, alongside tuition fees, pose significant challenges for international students. Canada has doubled its cost of living requirement for international students from $10,000 to $20,635, excluding tuition fees.

While Australia’s student housing sector has expanded significantly, with rental prices surging by 10-20 percent.

However, only 10 percent of the market comprises on-campus accommodation, exacerbating financial pressures. Escalating rental costs, driven by accommodation shortages, particularly in university cities, further strain students’ finances, contributing to waning interest among potential international students.

The recent rise in unemployment rates in Australia, Canada, and the UK, especially among young people and entry-level positions, has diminished the appeal of part-time jobs for international students.

In Canada, 57% of students are unemployed, and 56% are finding it challenging to secure work, intensifying competition and impacting their ability to afford education and living expenses abroad.

Stricter visa policies in Australia, Canada, and the UK pose new challenges for international students, including longer processing times and uncertainties regarding post-study work visas, making plans for education in these countries difficult.

Australia now mandates Genuine Student (GS) status, higher IELTS scores, and increased savings, while the UK has tightened regulations on student visas and work permits, restricting dependent privileges and visa switches. Only those enrolled in postgraduate research programs can sponsor others.

Canadian students now face stricter financial requirements to meet revised living costs, complicating visa applications and raising uncertainties for international students.

The decreasing interest in studying in Australia, Canada, and the UK has profound implications. Economically, international students contribute significantly to university revenue and local economies. A sustained decline could pose financial challenges for institutions.

Academically, reduced international student diversity may diminish educational richness and global perspective. Moreover, if these countries are seen as less welcoming of education and career goals, their attractiveness for talent and innovation may be jeopardized, impacting their global standing and competitiveness.