New rules affecting foreign student visas, which go into effect from 1 July 2016, will be a boon for the property market, especially in Sydney and Melbourne.
The Simplified Student Visa Framework (SSVF) aims to “support the sustainable growth of Australia’s international education sector” by reducing red tape. Key changes under the SSVF include reducing the number of student visa subclasses from eight to two and introducing a simplified single immigration risk framework for all international students.
The head of Australia for Chinese property portal, Juwai.com, Gavin Norris, said the new framework is positive for the Australian housing market.
“Six out of every 10 Chinese property buying inquiries made in Australia last year were related to education,” Norris said.
“Juwai.com sent about AU$1.6 billion of property buying inquiries to Australian vendors last year, and almost $1 billion of that value came from families who wanted to buy homes for their children to live in while studying here.
“Anything Australia does to increase the number of Chinese students will also increase investment in strategic areas of the real estate market that generates more construction jobs, more new housing being built and more economic growth.”
Last year, Chinese students made up 1 out of every four international students in Australia, and international students support about 130,000 jobs, according to research from Juwai. Norris said these statistics demonstrate the invaluable contribution foreign students have on the Australian economy.
“When Australia wins a foreign student, it gains tens of thousands in education fees, additional tens of thousands in retail and services spending, hundreds of thousands in a potential real estate investment and – most important of all – the possibility that highly educated individual will decide to stay and work here and contribute to our economy over the long term,” he said.
“Every student who might have come here, but doesn’t, could represent substantial lost benefits.
“The reverse is also true. Anything that discourages international property investment also risks causing adverse impacts the education industry.”
Norris has also praised other SSVF changes, which include trialling visa applications in Mandarin and trialling 10-year student visas.
“These visa changes are smart, and help Australia catch up to nations like the US, which offer similar visa terms.
“The most important elements are the Mandarin language applications, the 10 year validity pilot and the simplified paperwork.
“For the most part, these changes are about avoiding the loss of our privileged place as a destination of choice for overseas students, rather than beating the competition,” Norris said.