Melbourne: Witnessing a steep decline in foreigners' enrolment in its universities, Australia on Thursday announced that it would relax some visa requirements to win back overseas students, including Indians.
The new changes, expected to be enforced from the second semester of 2012 in the Australian universities, follow a review of the student visa programme led by ex-New South Wales government minister Michael Knight.
Under the new rules, the financial requirements for student visas will be eased and applicants will need about 36,000 dollars less in their bank account than they do now. New post-study work visas will also allow students to remain in Australia for two to four years after their course ends, depending on their level of qualification.
Significantly, Canberra had earlier tightened visa regime for Indian students, stating that a number of them came to Australia to settle down by taking admissions in non-skilled vocational courses like cookery and hair-cutting, implying that this was one of the reasons for a series of attacks on Indian youths in the country.
"We were taking hairdressers from overseas in front of doctors and nurses, it didn't make any sense," Australian immigration authorities had said in 2010 while tightening the visa rules.
More than 100 incidents of attacks against Indian students have been reported over the past two years in Australia, mainly in its Victoria province.