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The Australian government has hiked the student visa fee by 125%, taking the cost from AU$710 to AU$1,600.

The new fees came into effect Monday. In addition, visitor visa holders and students with temporary graduate visas are barred from applying onshore for a student visa, Reuters reported.

The fee now exceeds those in competing countries like the U.S., which charges $185, and Canada, which costs C$150.

The latest move by the federal government is seen as an effort to control the spiraling migration and to ease the tight housing market. According to official data published in March, the country witnessed record migration, increasing by 60% as COVID restrictions were lifted.

The Labor government in its May budget had vowed to control migration by introducing strict visa rules, hiking fees and capping student intake.

Earlier in March, the government imposed more stringent methods to test the students' English language proficiency. And, in May, the savings amount for internationals were raised to AU$29,710 from AU$24,505, which was a second increase in seven months.

"The changes coming into force today will help restore integrity to our international education system, and 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.

However, the government's decision drew widespread criticism from immigration and education experts, as they warned that the sector was undergoing "death by a thousand cuts."

Abul Rizvi, a former official of the immigration department, called it a poor decision.

"It's really poor, short-term thinking," Rizvi said. "We're actually shooting ourselves in the foot: the people it will deter will tend to be good students with options," The Guardian quoted Rizvi.

Chief executive of the International Education Association, Phil Honeywood, warned that this will lead to foreign students exploring other countries, which would be a big loss for Australia's education sector.

International education contributed worth A$36.4 billion to the economy in the 2022-2023 financial year.

Honeywood stated that blaming international students for the housing shortage showed that the government had fallen victim to the media narrative.

Federal education minister, Jason Clare, said the fee rise will support the international education system and boost funding of important reforms recommended by the Universities Accord.