Student visa applications on slide in Australia: report

Melbourne: Australia has recorded a drop of almost 63 per cent in offshore international student visa applications from India in the last financial year, according to latest official data. The figures also show an overall drop of 20 per cent in the offshore international student visa applications, media reports said.

The Indian market has been the hardest hit by the fall in offshore applications with a drop of 63 per cent. The June month Immigration Department's quarterly report on the student visa programme revealed that the number of offshore applicants from India dropped from 18,514 in the 2009-10 financial year to just 6875 in the 2010-11 financial year. Apart from this even applications from China, Australia's largest source country for international students, also dropped 24.3 per cent.

Melbourne University higher education expert Simon Marginson said the drop showed the sector was still a way off from a recovery.

"[There is] no sign that we have yet reached the bottom of the curve," he said.

Marginson said the steep drop-off in offshore applications was largely because of federal government changes to the visa criteria and skilled migration list. "Demand for Australian education in India always was relatively soft and the elimination of the migration-related industry run through education agents, plus the image problems triggered by the violence, has permanently depressed the prospects of recruitment in that country," he said.

Professor Marginson said the drop in applications from Vietnam - down 31 per cent - and China was of greater concern. "China and south-east Asia are our core markets [and] far more worrying is the defection of part of the student market in China and Vietnam, where demand is more education-centred, and the quality of students coming to Australia has been higher than those coming from India," he said.

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