Australia's largest international student recruiter, IDP Education Pty Ltd (IDP), has said that the number of Indian student visas has crashed from 8,600 a year ago to just 200 this year, suggesting that a tightening of immigration procedures and reports of alleged racial attacks against the Indian community in Australia is having a negative impact overseas.
IDP CEO Tony Pollock said that Peter Verghese, Australia's High Commissioner to India via Pollock's staff, had provided these alarming figures to him.
He warned that changes to visa rules and priority skills were being made without giving the industry time to adjust.
According to The Australian, international student enrolments could drop by as much as 20 per cent next year, costing the Australian economy up to two billion dollars, as a consequence of the Rudd government''s "abrupt" tightening of immigration requirements and rising competition from North America and Britain for the lucrative student trade.
IDP Education Pty Ltd (IDP) is a global company offering student placement and English language testing services.
Using its network of over 75 student offices in 29 countries, IDP places more international students into Australian educational institutions than any other organization. It places students into all sectors of the Australian education system, including higher education, vocational education and training (VET), English language intensive courses for overseas students (ELICOS) and schools.
Of late, student demand has plummeted and the sector's market standing was at risk.
Pollock said international placements into Australia across IDP's network were down 37 per cent in April compared with a year ago, with current Indian demand almost wiped out.
The Australian, however, was unable to verify these numbers with the commission.
According to the Department of Immigration, its latest application figures for the nine months to the end of March 31 show that applications from Indian nationals are down 47 per cent at 23,601.