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Go8 Rubbishes Proposed ‘Cap’ on International Students in Australia.

Recent analysis conducted by the Group of Eight (Go8) in Australia has debunked the notion of a direct correlation between international students and the country’s housing crisis. Contrary to popular belief, the organization’s latest policy brief identifies housing affordability and broader cost-of-living challenges as primarily stemming from supply-side issues, rather than being exacerbated by the presence of international students.

This assessment from the Go8 follows a report by Australia’s PBSA organization, the Student Accommodation Council, which similarly refuted claims that overseas students are to blame for the nation’s rental crisis. As debates over the imposition of a cap on international student numbers, akin to the one introduced in Canada earlier in the year, continue to simmer, key stakeholders within the education sector have pushed back against the idea.

Despite suggestions of an informal cap due to sluggish visa approval rates, prominent voices within the sector have rejected the notion of a formal cap. Vicki Thomson, the Chief Executive of Go8, emphasized that while international student demand for housing may be higher in certain inner-city areas of Sydney and Melbourne, significant investments are being made by Go8 members and purpose-built student accommodation providers to address this issue.

Thomson highlighted a myriad of supply-side factors contributing to Australia’s housing challenges, including decades of underinvestment, regulatory constraints, construction costs, workforce shortages, and supply chain disruptions. She emphasized that even without international students, Australia would still grapple with a housing crisis, underscoring the complexity of the underlying issues at play.

Warning against the implementation of a cap on international student numbers as a solution to ease housing pressures, Thomson cautioned that such a move would be shortsighted and could hinder Australia’s economic growth and prosperity, particularly amidst a domestic skills crisis.

Echoing Thomson’s sentiments, Julian Hill, the outgoing co-convener of the federal government’s Council for International Education, cautioned against the adoption of a hard cap on international student numbers. Hill argued that such a measure would send negative signals globally, potentially deterring high-quality students who contribute significantly to Australia’s talent pool, soft power, academic excellence, and research endeavors.

Drawing parallels with Canada, the Go8 document highlighted concerns raised by sector stakeholders regarding the adverse effects of capping international student numbers on labor markets, diversity, and the ability to meet the demands of high-growth sectors. In essence, the proposed cap on international students in Australia is viewed not only as a short-term fix but also as a measure that could undermine the long-term strategic interests of the country.

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