Sydney Kingsford airport
The rise in fees makes applying for a student visa for Australia far more expensive than in competing countries like the US and Canada Image Credit: Shutterstock

Sydney: Australia dealt a severe blow to international students Monday by raising visa application fees by 125% to boost the "integrity" of its fourth-largest export and help slow overall migration.

The increase to A$1,600 ($1,067) per application, from A$710 starting July 1, will help "create a migration system which is fairer, smaller and better able to deliver for Australia," Home Affairs Minister Clare O' Neil said in a statement. Other migration-related measures also came into effect on Monday.

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Australia has one of the biggest international education sectors in the world, worth about A$48 billion a year, or 7% of total exports. International graduates account for one-third of the nation's permanent skilled migrant intake, according to the Grattan Institute.

The extra revenue will be used to help implement measures including government's funding of Australian students' education as well as financial support for local apprentices and employers, the government said.

An influx in arrivals since borders reopened after the pandemic is running headlong into a chronic shortage of homes to accommodate them, forcing the government to limit the inflow. Migration is expected to be a key plank on which Australia's 2025 election will be fought, with opposition leader Peter Dutton also promising measures to slash migrant numbers.

International student numbers have surged since the pandemic to more than 650,000, well above pre-Covid levels and nearly double where they were almost a decade ago. Australia has more three times the number of international students, per head of population, than either Canada or the UK, according to Grattan.