Indian students once again head to Australia

Melbourne: Indian students are once again heading to Australia, along with a rise in international students, with the perceived threat of physical violence having receded to a large extent.

Violence against Indians in Australia has been a sensitive issue, especially after several racially motivated attacks on international students a few years back had strained relations between the two nations.

Indian students, according to an Australian Immigration Department report, top the list of visas granted in Australia.

Overall, 284,152 international students were granted visas in the first three quarters of the Australian financial year ending March 31. This figure represents an increase of 4.5 per cent compared with the same period in 2010-11.

Over 23,000 Indian students were granted visa this year.

The Australian Immigration Department assessment of Indian applications seem to have improved significantly from the same period last year as there has been a whopping 82.8 per cent increase in Indian students getting the all important nod.

While 2,319 Indian students were granted visa in India in the three quarters ending March 2011, the number has ballooned to 4,238 this year.

A massive increase has also been noticed, according to a recent Immigration Department report, in the Indian students making application for Australian student visas. More than 8,000 Indians applied for visa to study in Australia in the nine months to March 31 which represents approximately 120 per cent increase as compared to the number of applications last year.

The latest Immigration Department report on student visas has elicited comments from Monash University migration expert Bob Birrell, who is known for his hardline approach on anything linked to Indian students or academic courses they usually opt for.

“They have been swooshing around the system, applying for student and tourist visas, family reunion and as temporary skilled migrants,” Bob Birrell told The Herald Sun newspaper Tuesday while referring to Indian students in Australia.

“The student system was opened up to allow so many in, and now they are seeking whatever means are available to stay on via other visas,” he said.

The noticeable turnaround in student visa grants is also being attributed to a “backlash” from the Australian education institutes who had criticised the way Immigration Department was refusing applications from international students.

“Recent changes in the visa application process has made it easier for Indian students to come down under to study,” says Jag Khairra, a Melbourne-based migration and education consultant.

“Australian government has also worked hard to address fears about attacks on Indian students,” Jag added.

There were approximately 345,000 international student visa holders in Australia as of March 31.

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