The approval rate for student visas to Australia is down to a historic low.

For the six months to December last year, only 82 per cent of higher education visa applications were approved, down from a 87.5 per cent approval rate in the 2022-23 period. 

This decline is even more pronounced in the vocational education sector, where approval rates have dipped to 70 per cent.

It is a clear departure from the trend of approval rates exceeding 90 per cent over the past 15 years. 

A total of 98,200 of the 132,000 higher education visa applications lodged in the latter half of 2023 were approved.

At the same time, Canada's decision to cap the number of student visa applications has added another layer of complexity, potentially redirecting students towards Australia and intensifying the competition for visas.

In Australia, the government's attempts to streamline the process through automated systems for student visa applications has encountered setbacks, with a failure in early December halting the processing of visas temporarily. 

The Department of Home Affairs says it has been working to resolve these issues and improve the system's efficiency.

As Australia navigates these turbulent waters, experts suggest adopting clearer criteria for visa approvals, such as baseline academic records, to identify genuine, high-quality students. 

Meanwhile, the rise in visa refusals and slower processing times has prompted concerns about an increase in appeals and asylum applications among those seeking to extend their stay in Australia.