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Universities and colleges will have an extra six months to prepare themselves for a cut to foreign student numbers after the government agreed to further consultation with the industry during fiery crisis talks.

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare will be able to set a cap on international student enrolments under laws proposed by the government in a bid to “strengthen the integrity and quality of international education”.

Education Minister Jason Clare.

Education Minister Jason Clare.Credit: Rhett Wyman

The sector acknowledged the unprecedented growth in international student numbers was unsustainable but warned chronic underfunding had forced public institutions to become reliant on lucrative student income.

Stakeholders feared the measures would be implemented on July 1, but secured a stay of execution until the beginning of 2025 in a meeting on Monday morning, said the chief executive of the industry’s peak lobby group.

“People were angry at the start the meeting, but it’s fair to say that Jason Clare and [Home Affairs Minister] Clare O’Neil acknowledged that the policy situation hasn’t been perfect,” International Education Association of Australia chief executive Phil Honeywood said.

“We’ve got to acknowledge that, whether it’s a public university or a quality private college like an English language college, they’ve got staffing issues, they’ve got leases on commercial buildings, they’ve got business plans.

“So at the very least they deserve six or seven months to cut their cloth according to any new government policy framework.”


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