Overseas students to Australia down 40%

Student applications from India, Vietnam and China has dropped 40% last month following abrupt changes to Australia`s visa regime, the country`s top education agent has warned.

Updated: May 12, 2010, 17:59 PM IST

Melbourne: Student applications from India,
Vietnam and China has dropped 40 per cent last month following
abrupt changes to Australia`s visa regime, the country`s top
education agent has warned and asked the government to keep
skilled migration route open for overseas pupils.

"Last month, there was a significant decline in
applications from India, Vietnam and China. It`s a concern,"
Tony Pollock, chief of country`s leading international
education and development organisation, IDP, said.
The drop has been attributed ever since overseas student
attack crisis erupted that prompted government to tighten visa
rules and forced many private colleges to shut down, according
to "the Australian`.

Pollock warned a possible loss of 600 million Australian
dollars in export revenue due to decline in student

Pollock said: "If there`s a 10 per cent decline over a full
year, with each student adding around 30,000 Australian
dollars to the economy ,that would be a 600 million
Australian dollar shortfall, conservatively."

"It`s tougher to get a student visa, which means people
are questioning whether they will ever get a (permanent) visa
for Australia, and whether they should look elsewhere to get
an education," Pollock said.

"Announcing suspensions of visa categories - even though
they aren`t student visa classes - and delaying the Skilled
Occupation List doesn`t help confidence," he said.

China and India are Australia`s top two source countries.

Appreciating efforts to cleanse the industry, Pollock said
government should keep the skilled migration pathway open for
international students.

"Offering students the prospect of permanent residency -
but only if they are sponsored by an employer - is a very
uncertain outcome for those craving certainty," he said.

According to national statistics from Department of
Education, Employment and Workplace Relations, there was an
overall 40.8 per cent decline in Indian students beginning
studies in universities, vocational education and intensive
English language courses in January as well, compared with the
same time last year.

Providers of English Language Intensive Courses for
Overseas Students (ELICOS) - many of which are private
collages - suffered the biggest hit nationally with an 88.6
per cent decline.
"While we are seeing nasty figures, the country as a whole
is doing well and we should be back in growth in the Indian
market in the next financial year" Pollock had said.

Earlier, Immigration Minister Chris Evans had said changes
to the skilled migration program would remove incentives for
overseas students to apply for a course to win residency.

There has been a delay in releasing priority skills list
by the government that is aimed to delink education with

The tightening of migration rules is being looked by
experts as a move that will make Australia a less attractive
destination for vocational education students.

The government had recently announced it was revoking the
Migration Occupations in Demand List and the Critical Skills
List, which detailed the skills in national short supply
favoured for entry through the skilled migration program.

Prospective foreign students who want to migrate were able
to use the lists as a guide when deciding what to study.

Earlier last year, the Government cut jobs from the
program (mainly building and manufacturing) and lifted
English-language requirements.

The Government said the CSL would be replaced with a
revised Skilled Occupation List in mid-2010, which was a more
targeted list of occupations to better meet the medium and
long-term future skill needs of the Australian economy.