The Australian | 21 June 2013
Sue Blundell, head of English language college peak body English Australia, says
If these charges remain, they will do incalculable damage to international education, which is only now starting to recover, and to local tourism. As well as the monetary impact, they present Australia as less welcoming, at a time when government policy should be about engaging our neighbours.
TAFE Directors Australia called the new fee a “disaster”, with TDA director Peter Holder saying “it puts us at a distinct disadvantage with other countries.”
Phil Honeywood, executive director of peak body International Education Association of Australia said the sector already suffers from a higher Australian dollar and comparatively higher visa fees, and that this latest charge “is another impediment to international students seeing Australia as a competitive destination.'”
A spokeswoman for immigration minister Brendan O’Connor said that in addition to passing on costs to end users “the changes are also intended to create incentives for the visa system to operate more efficiently (such as) incentives to apply by internet rather than on paper and incentives to pursue a permanent visa rather than a series of temporary visas.”
The Gillard government in late 2011 announced a new visa pricing regime effective from July 2013 that is projected to raise an additional $613 million over four years. In a boost for the education sector it included a 5 per cent cut in the student visa fee effective from last year. But the industry complains it has now been caught out by the scale of other charges only announced this week.