15 October 2010

Numbers of international students declining in Australia

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Australian universities are finding it hard to recruit foreign students due to a lack of certainty over Australian immigration policies, an international education conference in Sydney has heard.

Australian Student Visa

The numbers of foreign students in Australia has fallen, an education conference has heard.

Australia has fallen from first to third place on a list of preferred university destinations for India's aspiring middle class students, behind the US and the UK.

Enrolments fell dramatically after last year's much publicised attacks on Indian nationals in Melbourne and the recent chances to Australian immigration policies is making it harder for the country to rebuild its reputation.

Tony Pollack, executive director, IDP Education, said their research shows Australian education is still highly valued but it continues to suffer from confusion around Australian Visas as vocational courses no longer lead to the possibility of permanent residency.

“There's perhaps anywhere from 25 to 50,000 students and ex-students in limbo in Australia at the moment. Their visa status is only temporary and it seems unlikely they will be able to achieve the outcomes they were hoping for which is to be able to get work experience in Australia or to apply for permanent residency because of the way the rules have reframed,” Mr Pollack said.

Mr Pollack said in an immediate sense the best thing the government could do is be clear about how they're going to deal with Australian Student Visa holders during the transition and what the new requirements are.

“We still haven't got clarity around the requirements for skilled and professional immigration. This of course has been due to the election but the election has been and gone, it's time to get this sorted out.”

While the number of Indian students studying overseas hasn't declined, the numbers of these students in Australia has, from over 100,000 last year to just 29,000 currently: and only 11,000 of those are in university courses.

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