In June 1989, forty-five per cent of ELICOS students were estimated to be in Australia after their visas had run out (Mazzarol & Soutar, 1999; Nesdale, Simkin, Sang, Burke, & Fraser, 1995).
The highest category of students overstaying the visas were ELICOS students from the People's Republic of China (PRC).
In June 1987, the Commonwealth began cautiously to address the illegal immigration issue by compelling Chinese ELICOS students to prepay all course fees before being issued with a visa.
While the ELICOS industry committed itself to refunding PRC students unable to undertake prepaid courses because of the changed legislation, several ELICOS colleges were unable to comply.
Another large number (more than 15,000) of PRC residents who had completed applications for an ELICOS visa by mid-1989 were subsequently permitted to enter Australia.
In the late 1980s most of the burst of growth in overseas student enrolments amongst those from the PRC occurred amongst ELICOS students.
In addition, PRC students do not have access to short (and low cost) courses like ELICOS.
In the late 1980s it was common practice for ELICOS students to move into the workforce full-time in order to pay off their expenses and perhaps to accrue some money from their visit.