International Students in Australia will not be able to change courses under new law

This week the Department of Home Affairs has announced a new ruling on the conditions of the student visa (subclass 500).

In a shocking quote delivered by the Federal Department of Home Affairs, “Subclass 500 (Student) visa holders studying, or intending to undertake, higher education studies that they must not change their course of study, or research topic unless approved by the Minister [Karen Andrews MP]”.

The new conditions to the Subclass 500 (Student) visa states that new powers will be given to The Minister to not approve international students’ change in Higher Education courses.

What are the changes in conditions?

New Conditions: 8204 and 8303

The new conditions, prohibit international students from changing their tertiary course without the approval of the Minister of Home Affairs. Shockingly, Condition 8303 quotes ‘to prevent international students actively promoting extremist views and interfering with community operations in Australia’.

The rule applies to all international students aiming for a

  • graduate certificate
  • graduate diploma
  • master’s degree
  • doctorate, or
  • any bridging course required as a prerequisite to a course of study or research for a master’s degree or doctorate.

Migration Act 1958 Amendment

According to the Federal Register of Legislation, the amendment titled ‘Clarifying International Obligation for Removal’ states:

“Refugee Conventions… do not apply to a refugee whom there are reasonable grounds for regarding as a danger to the security of the country they are in…”

While this is a matter for the office of Home Affairs, the new power for the Department to grant and refuse changes to International Student’s higher education on the basis of National Security is quite frankly… an attack on education and the trickle-down effect of this policy could put thousands of students out of work, and ashamed to return to institutions such as RMIT again.

The inclusion of the Subclass 500 (Student) visa in the amendment has further created a divide for a country that is struggling to look presentable to International Students in the first place.

At the end of last year, a 2-week delay in reopening the border for International Students caused a significant decline in interest to study tertiary education in the country with students looking towards Canada and the UK for alternatives to education.


What was the previous rules?

The previous ruling stated that a student could change their course at the discretion of their institution after six months of minimum study, and not the federal government.

When will these conditions come into effect?

Currently, it stands that the new conditions will come into effect as of July 1st, 2022.

I am a domestic student, what is a Subclass 500 (Student) visa?

A student visa is a temporary 5-year visa obtained to study in the country where an international student is eligible to study in higher education.

Article Written by Jasper Riley

Photo by 绵 绵 on Unsplash

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