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Oz immigration overhaul might spark protests: student leader

Australia's decision to drop several courses like hairdressing and cookery from its preferred skills list might spark protests by overseas students, many of whom have taken hefty education loans, an Indian student leader has said.

world Updated: May 18, 2010 16:48 IST

Australia's decision to drop several courses like hairdressing and cookery from its preferred skills list might spark protests by overseas students, many of whom have taken hefty education loans, an Indian student leader has said.

The overhaul to Australia's immigration policy has dented the prospects of many migrants for permanent residency and is causing unrest, especially among those who had taken education loans worth thousands of dollars, All International Student Association (AISA) President Navjot Singh said.

Australia has announced new preferred occupation skills list dropping occupations like hairdressing and cookery in favour of doctors, nurses and engineers to crack down on people seeking permanent residency through low-value education courses.

Singh said angry overseas students were likely to take to the streets protesting against the release of the Rudd government's priority skills list, 'The Australian' said.

He said many thousands of overseas students had taken out huge loans against family properties in their homelands to
enter the cookery, hairdressing, business and finance courses which are now absent from the list.

"I have had 200 calls in three hours. Many people are really frustrated and disappointed and feel they can't go back
home," Singh said.

The government has cut by more than half the number of occupations and professions in the skilled migration programme.

The new skilled occupations list, with an aim to crack down on dodgy colleges who provide such courses to achieve
migration, had dashed the residency hopes of thousands of students, Singh said.

They fear their family homes could be repossessed, as that's how they got their education loans of 30,000 dollars to
100,000 dollars, he said.

Many students felt "100 per cent betrayed" by promises of residency by the Australian government, education agents
and providers.

Students were likely to take to the streets in protest over the coming weeks, he said.

"The only difference is it won't only be Indian students protesting this time, but students from China and other countries as well," he said.