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Stricter visa rules posing new challenges for international students

by moneylab

By Vaibhav Gupta

Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom have long been revered as beacons of higher education, attracting students from every corner of the globe. Their universities sit atop global rankings, their cities promise vibrant, multicultural experiences, and their degrees are passports to international careers.

However, recent shifts in international education policies, compounded by economic challenges, have begun to tarnish their appeal. This article delves into the factors contributing to the declining interest among international students, exploring the implications of economic turmoil, rising unemployment, visa policy changes, and what the future may hold for these education powerhouses.

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The Appeal of Australia, Canada, and the UK

The allure of studying in Australia, Canada, and the UK is multifaceted. These countries offer high-quality education, extensive research opportunities, and a high standard of living. Their universities, known for academic excellence, also promise a global perspective, preparing students for a competitive international job market.

Cities like Melbourne, Toronto, and London are celebrated for their diversity, safety, and vibrant student life, making them ideal destinations for young scholars seeking an enriching study abroad experience.

Trends in Student Volume Over the Past Years

Over the past decade, the number of international students flocking to these countries has seen exponential growth. This surge has been driven by aggressive recruitment strategies, scholarships, and the promise of post-study work opportunities.

However, recent data indicates a plateauing of this growth, coupled with the observation that demand from India for studies in Canada is down (-40% between February 2023 and January 2024), with some institutions reporting declines in international applications and enrollments. This shift signals a changing landscape, prompting a closer examination of the underlying causes.

Top Universities in Global Ranking

Institutions like the University of Melbourne, the University of Toronto, and the University of Oxford consistently rank among the top universities globally. Their reputation for academic excellence, cutting-edge research, and a holistic educational experience continues to attract international students. However, the prestige of these institutions alone is no longer sufficient to counterbalance the growing concerns over cost, employment prospects, and policy changes affecting international students.

Rising Prices and Accommodation Scarcity

The rising cost of living in Australia, Canada, and the UK, compounded by global economic instability, presents considerable obstacles for international students, who are already grappling with tuition fees.

Canada has increased the cost of living requirement for international students from $10,000 to $20,635, exclusive of tuition fees. Recent research reveals a substantial expansion in Australia’s student housing sector, valued at AUD 10 billion, with a notable CAGR of 17 percent.

It’s worth noting that only 10 percent of this market consists of on-campus accommodation, while the remaining 90 percent comprises off-campus options. Furthermore, rental prices in Australia have surged by 10-20 percent, exacerbating financial pressures on students.

Escalating rental costs, driven by a shortage of accommodation, especially in university cities, place additional strain on students’ finances. These economic challenges significantly contribute to the waning interest among potential international students.

Rise in Unemployment

The promise of part-time jobs to supplement income and gain work experience is a significant draw for international students. However, the recent uptick in unemployment rates in these countries, particularly among young people and entry-level positions, has dampened this appeal.

57% of students studying in Canada were unemployed, with 56% claiming they were struggling to find work. The competition for jobs has intensified, leaving many international students struggling to find work, which directly impacts their ability to afford education and living expenses abroad.

Recent Visa Changes

Visa policies in Australia, Canada, and the UK have become stricter, posing new challenges for international students. Longer processing times and uncertainties about post-study work visas make planning education journeys difficult.

Australia now requires a Genuine Student (GS) status, higher IELTS scores, and increased savings. The UK has tightened regulations on student visas and work permits, limiting dependent privileges and visa switches. Only those studying postgraduate research programs can sponsor others.

Additionally, Canadian students must show enough financial support to meet revised living cost requirements. These changes complicate visa applications and raise uncertainties for international students.

Future Impact

The declining interest in studying in Australia, Canada, and the UK has far-reaching implications. Economically, international students contribute significantly to the revenue of universities and the broader economy through tuition fees, accommodation, and living expenses. A sustained decline could lead to financial challenges for institutions and local economies. Academically, a decrease in international student diversity may impact the richness of the educational experience, diminishing the global perspective that is a hallmark of these countries’ education systems.

Moreover, the long-term attractiveness of these nations as destinations for talent and innovation could be at risk. If potential students and future professionals perceive these countries as less welcoming or viable for their education and career goals, the shift could have lasting impacts on the global standing and competitiveness of Australia, Canada, and the UK.


The decline in student interest in Australia, Canada, and the UK is a complex issue, rooted in economic challenges, policy changes, and shifting global dynamics.

While these countries remain attractive destinations for higher education, addressing the concerns of international students is crucial to maintaining their global appeal. This will require not only policy adjustments but also efforts to mitigate the economic barriers and ensure a welcoming, inclusive environment for students from around the world.

The future of international education in these countries hinges on their ability to adapt to these changing circumstances, reaffirming their commitment to being global leaders in attracting and nurturin

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