Figures recently released from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship in Australia have revealed a 20% fall in the number of students outside of Australia applying for an Australian visa.

In its quarterly report to June 2011, figures indicate that the overall number of student visa applications lodged was stabilised only by the number of applications from international students already in Australia, with overall figures showing a more modest fall in applications of 5% , however offshore applications are often seen as an indication of future demand and any sharp downward trend could be troubling to the market, as well as those looking to be assured that demand for skills will be partly met by offshore student visa applicants seeking immigration opportunities.

The fall in offshore Australian visa applications has hit the Indian market the hardest. India had helped significantly with a previous boom in applications from students seeking opportunities overseas, however the latest figures show a massive overall drop of 63%. The drop could continue to be affected by a number of factors including high publicised assaults on Indian students, a tightening of immigration rules and the strengthening of the Australian dollar. Offshore applications from China, which have traditionally been the country supplying the largest number of international students to Australia, fell by 24%.

The Department’s figures follow other statistics released from Australian Education International, which show the number of international students commencing studies has dropped by nearly 7% over the year to June 2011.

Visa applications from existing international students already resident in Australia are not generally perceived as new growth, and the figures released by the Department of Immigration may be a cause of concern if taken as a market indicator for potential future growth. The figures may also be of interest to skilled visa applicants as the Australian government could consider looking to fulfil any increased demand for skills from the skilled visa sector.

Thanks to the Visa Bureau who contributed this article.