International Education Updates

Edited on January 22, 2024

Department of Home Affairs

The Department of Home Affairs has issued a Migration Strategy – Student and Graduate visa measures Fact sheet – Migration Strategy – Student and Graduate visa measures

This provides details of:

  1. increased English language proficiency requirements (to be implemented for student visa applications in early 2024),
  2. overall priorities for processing of offshore student visa applications as of 15 December 2023, and
  3. a Genuine Student requirement (to replace the Genuine Temporary Entrant / GTE requirement in early 2024).

Key points for the Schools sector:

  1. English language requirements

Schools sector student visa applicants remain exempt from providing evidence of an appropriate English language test result at the time of visa application.

This information is available at: Details are under Meet English language requirements >> English Language Evidence Exemptions.

You do not need to provide evidence of an English test score with your visa application if one of the following applies:

  • … you are enrolled in a principal course of study that is a registered school course, a standalone English Language Intensive Course for Overseas Students (ELICOS), a course registered to be delivered in a language other than English, or a registered post-graduate research course …

Please also note the exemption in the last dot point, which is relevant for high school students with a Senior Secondary Certificate of Education who are intending to apply for a student visa for tertiary entrance:

  • … in the 2 years before applying for the student visa, you completed, in Australia and in the English language, either the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education or a substantial component of a course leading to a qualification from the Australian Qualifications Framework at the Certificate IV or higher level, while you held a student visa.(Emphases added.)
  1. Student processing priorities

The fact sheet advises that 15 December 2023 was the commencement date for Ministerial Direction No.107. This establishes how the Department prioritises processing of Student and Student Guardian visa caseloads based on the risk level of providers.

As noted in Caroline’s International Education Update and the Department of Immigration’s Student Visa Program Provider Update – December 2023 (19/12/23), applications for student visas for the Schools sector that are lodged outside Australia and for Student Guardian visas that are lodged inside or outside Australia are among those that will receive the highest priority for processing.

  1. Genuine Student requirements

The fact sheet advises a new ‘Genuine Student’ Ministerial Direction will come into effect in early 2024. Student visa application forms will be changed to reflect the new requirements.

While ISA has advocated for the level of studies and age of school sector student visa applicants to be taken into account, we have not seen any draft wording of the changes, nor had any indication about how information required for the Department to assess the applicant’s ‘knowledge of and interest in their chosen course of study’ and the requirement for the prescribed declaration might apply to school age student visa applicants.

In the fact sheet footnote, the Department advises all changes will be communicated to stakeholders in advance of coming into effect.

Department of Education – International Education

The International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) is holding the following events:

Other IEAA events can be found at: Professional Development – International Education Association of Australia (

 Tuition Protection Service (TPS)
Department of Immigration
  • The Government’s Migration Strategy was released on 11/12/23. Details of the Strategy, Overview and Action Plan are available at Migration Strategy ( changes have already been implemented. Details of those still to come are outlined in the Migration Strategy – Action Plan.
  • There are a number of recommendations and proposed actions that are jointly being considered or worked on by the Departments of Immigration and Education.
Department of Education (International Education)
  • The Department is continuing work on integrity measures in international education and student visa reforms. These include:
    • changes to the ESOS Act relating to the Fit and Proper Person test,
    • changes to ESOS Regulations to enhance the Immigration Minister’s power to sanction registered providers with a high immigration risk,
    • collection of data on and increased regulation of education agents and their activities,
    • a cross-agency Risk Framework for ESOS agency compliance action, and
    • changes to PRISMS.

Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade

  • In October 2023, the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade released an Interim Report – Inquiry into Australia’s International Education Sector as part of an inquiry into the post COVID-19 recovery of Australia’s tourism and international education sectors.
  • The Government has yet to give a response to the Interim Report and its recommendations.
Resources for the International Education Sector

As there are often changes to staff at the beginning of the year, schools with international programs might wish to review information updates and resources that were made available towards the end of 2023. These include:

o   Department of Home Affairs Student Visa Program Provider Update – July to end September 2023 (emailed as an attachment to the AIS International Group on 01/12/23). In particular:

–           Item 4 Increase in financial capacity requirements

§  Subclass 500 Student visa ( Go to Gather your documents >> Evidence you have enough money for your stay.     

–          Item 6 Notifying the Department of changes to welfare arrangements for minors

§  Go to Your study situation has changed ( >> Your study situation has changed >> Request for approval of alternative welfare arrangements (

–          Item 10 Other useful links

§  Check visa conditions online (VEVO)

§  Check visa details and conditions.