For the first time in three years, there has been a rise in the number of Australian visas granted to Indian students, with 33,764 issued between April 1, 2011 and March 31, 2012.
Visa grants had hit a high of 65,516 in 2008-09, followed by a sudden slump in 2009-10 (29,826) and 2010-11 (28,954). The latest visa figures became available last week.
The drop three years ago had followed a spate of attacks on Indians in Australia as well as changes in visa requirements, leading to fall in applications — from 79,759 in 2008-09 to 37,958 in 2009-10. Numbers have since picked up, with 39,048 applications being lodged through 2011-12.
“The incidents [of violence] had some impact on perceptions and partly explain some of the initial drop in student numbers,” said a spokesperson for the Australian High Commission, via email. “The issue has settled down following a comprehensive response by the federal and state governments, including stronger law enforcement, tighter regulation and auditing and enhanced student welfare.”
The spokesperson added that the high dollar exchange rate was also partly responsible for the decline.
“Australia is becoming popular again,” said Naresh Gulati, chief executive officer of Oceanic Consultants, an international education consulting company. “Perceptions of racism in Australia have changed among Indian students. Australia has also benefited from the UK’s [tightening of its] own visa regulations.”