Cap on international student numbers in colleges and universities as crackdown on shonky operators starts

Prohibit education providers from owning agent businesses, halt the registration of new international education providers, and suspend the introduction of new courses

Next week, the Federal government is set to introduce important legislation aimed at bolstering the integrity and sustainability of Australia’s international education sector. This move is a significant part of the government’s broader migration strategy and is shaped by extensive engagement with stakeholders within the education industry.


  • Prevent education providers from owning education agent businesses.
  • Pause applications for registration from new international education providers and of new courses from existing providers for periods of up to 12 months.
  • Require new providers seeking registration to demonstrate a track record of quality education delivery to domestic students before they are allowed to recruit international students.
  • Cancel dormant provider registrations to prevent them from being used as a market entry tool by unscrupulous actors.
  • Prevent providers under serious regulatory investigation from recruiting new international students.
  • Improve the sharing of data relating to education agents.
International Students: Image Source @CANVA
International Students: Image Source @CANVA

The proposed legislation, heralded by Minister for Education, Jason Clare, will empower him to cap the number of new international student enrolments each education provider can accept.

These caps, particularly in the vocational education sector, will be informed by advice from the Minister for Skills and Training, ensuring a tailored and responsive approach to the needs of various educational disciplines.

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Australia’s Minister for Education Jason Clare (Source: Twitter)

“This measure is about ensuring our international education sector remains a world leader by prioritising quality and sustainability over unchecked growth,” Minister Clare explained.

“International students are back, but unfortunately, so are the shonks looking to exploit them. These reforms aim to protect students and ensure the long-term health of this crucial sector.”

To strengthen the framework, the legislation is designed to prohibit education providers from owning agent businesses, halt the registration of new international education providers, and suspend the introduction of new courses for up to a year.

International Students: Image Source @CANVA
International Students: Image Source @CANVA

This will allow for a consolidation of quality and a crackdown on substandard practices. Additionally, providers under serious investigation will be barred from recruiting new international students, and there will be enhanced data sharing concerning education agents.

Another significant reform includes banning agent commissions on student transfers between providers within Australia. This is intended to curb the predatory practice of ‘poaching’ students, which undermines both student welfare and the reputation of the sector.

In addition to legislative changes, the government is also releasing the draft International Education and Skills Strategic Framework. This document outlines the administration’s vision for a managed, quality-focused growth of the international student population.

Minister for Home Affairs, Clare O’Neil, also commented on the strategic importance of these changes.

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Minister for Home-Affairs, Clare-ONeil; Image Source: Supplied
Minister for Home-Affairs, Clare-ONeil; Image Source: Supplied

“With visa grants for international students returning to pre-pandemic levels, it’s essential that we manage this growth strategically to ensure it benefits our country and keeps pace with our national priorities,” she said.

“The Framework will provide greater certainty, especially for Australia’s regional universities, enabling international education to better contribute to Australia’s skills needs,”

Minister Clare stated.

Minister for Skills and Training, Brendan O’Connor, emphasised the importance of these reforms for the vocational education and training (VET) sector:

“We are focused on making our VET sector a safer, more welcoming space for international students. By targeting the bad actors, we uphold the integrity of our education system and protect the good name of our majority genuine providers.”

The government will continue consulting with stakeholders on the draft Framework over the coming months, with plans to finalise and publish the document later this year. These discussions are poised to shape a sustainable future for international education in Australia, ensuring it continues to contribute robustly to the nation’s economy, workforce, and cultural diversity.

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