Indian international student numbers to slump on virus

Last week, SBS Punjabi published an article suggesting that the loss of Chinese international students caused by the coronavirus might be filled by surging enrolments from India:

Melbourne-based migration agent Rohit Mohan said while it is too soon to say, but it is likely that students particularly from the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asian countries would be the “secondary beneficiaries of the crisis”…

“Australian universities have been diversifying their international student profiles in India to reduce their over-reliance on China, even before the coronavirus outbreak”.

“So given the circumstances, if students from China are unable to return to Australia to continue or start with their sessions, Australia will be forced to look at India to fill in that hole in times to come and we may even see some leniencies in admission criteria from private universities,” said Mr Mohan.

I rubbished this claim, noting that there were four key barriers stopping Indian international student enrolments from filling the Chinese void, namely:

  1. The United Kingdom has matched Australia’s generous post-study working rights, thus reducing Australia’s relative attractiveness as a place to study.
  2. The Department of Home Affairs has changed the ratings for Indian student visa applications to “high-risk”, meaning they must prove higher English-language proficiency and the capacity to support themselves financially.
  3. The federal government has lowered the permanent migrant intake from 190,000 to 160,000, thus reducing the probability of gaining permanent residency post-study and reducing the attractiveness of studying in Australia.
  4. India is simply too poor to fill the Chinese student hole, with China having around 24 million adults with incomes over $50,000 a year, compared to just 3 million for India.

With this background in mind, it is interesting to note that SBS Punjabi this week published another article claiming that new Indian student enrolments would likely fall in the second half:

“A bulk of students have returned to Australia, chances are that a majority of those currently in India might not return for a few more months amidst current circumstances, partly because of quarantine measures and also owing to parental pressure who fear for their safety,” says Mr Singh.

He adds that the class of students who have been most affected are the ones who intended to apply for mid-year intake at Australian universities.

“We will witness a likely decline in the number of new enrolments from India ahead of July intake- an obvious outcome of the ongoing crisis because many universities here are shut, some IELTS coaching centres back in India are not operating, promotional campaigns have ceased-all of which is bound to impact student numbers in the coming months,” says [Education consultant Ravi Lochan Singh].

As I keep saying, Australia’s boom in Indian students was driven by our relatively generous access to working rights and permanent residency.

With these advantages diminished, and Indians being relatively poor, there is little chance they can fill the hole left by falling Chinese student enrolments.

Unconventional Economist
Latest posts by Unconventional Economist (see all)


    • I’m starting to like this virus. It’s smashing the financial system and lowering immigration.

      • mikef179MEMBER

        Yep, much of the BS and excess in this country is about to be swept away. And it will take a long time, if ever, to get back to the same levels.

        • I’m still seeing plenty of bogan women going to get their nails done in shopping centre nail salons run by foreign owners and staff. They love being demanding to non-whites and it’s a cheap high with the inherent chemical fumes.

          “You’ve got to treat yourself, you know?”

      • The question is: if we can’t import people to keep the economy afloat, what economic model will we migrate to? (pun intended)

        • Make stuff again? Discover stuff and then make discovered stuff that the world needs.

          As a good signal to the economy, stop squandering taxpayer money on ABC entertainment and actually make stuff the world needs?

          Set up a Medical Research Fund, or something similar.

      • Agree with this. The ban on travellers will be the death knell for tourism, higher-education and associated industries. QANTAS standing down 20k staff and Flight Centre closing 100 branches is just the beginning.

        I expect property to get trashed, even with a pause on mortgage repayments. Back in 2018 I can remember being told that those given 2 month repayment breaks were expected to pay back the full amount owing plus interest for the period missed in a lump sum. Extending this time means a greater lump sum, and struggling owners may decide that it is better to get out sooner rather than later.

        • Has it been clarified yet how the repayment holiday actually works and how if impacts repayments going forward? I seriously don’t think many people will be able to pay a lump sum to make up the gap – certainly not more than two months. I assume the ‘gap debt’ will be rolled into the capital outstanding and the payments recalibrated for the term of the existing loan.

      • If the service sector is hit hard by the virus, can we get a reduction in the granting of business visas for setting up or purchasing established service sector businesses, such as cafes, restaurants, nail salons, massage parlors et al?

      • there is a lot to like about the virus. lowering dodgy imports of students is a great thing for this country.

  1. Big structural changes coming to Australian HE, we hear. Can’t tell you anything more.

  2. My Indian manager said India allowing anyone to leave, but will not allow non-residents to enter.

    He has however, cancelled plans for his oldies to come here, hopefully more like it

    • Nah can’t leave. All flights to all hubs cancelled, Dubai, HK, SNG, BK, KL. Basically locked down. There have been 4 deaths so far, and 170 infected. Given 500 people die in traffic accidents every day it seems like an overreaction. But the stats say slowing down the transmission is very effective, so i guess makes sense.

      Modi addressed the nation yesterday and said stay at home, but no need to hoard as all essentials will be available. And they are as far as I can tell. Malls etc closed, but neighbourhood shops going well. Authorities are targeting large groups of people only from what Modi said.

      I’m here to visit clients/prospects, and every office building I’ve entered has guards with thermal scanners. Now clearly my clients are in nicer buildings, but the response is pretty comprehensive as far as I can tell.

      All pubs/restaurants shut too. Nothing to do except watch news, which is depressing, because suddenly everyone is an expert on the coronavirus.

      • I concur with T. They are full-lockdown mode. Prevention is better than cure or something like that.

      • Do you shake hands?

        it seems like an overreaction.

        Their hospitals have been overrun for years and swine flu is still killing them:

        when India had just six active COVID-19 cases, the country effectively closed its borders to hotspot countries Japan, South Korea, Iran and Italy.

        It took another eight days for Australia to clamp down on travel from Italy

        Then on March 12, as the number of confirmed cases passed 70, India hit the nuclear option, suspending the vast majority of visas from every country for at least a month.

        While Australia debated what constituted a “mass gathering”, several Indian cities, including the capital New Delhi, closed schools and cinemas until April.

    • Getting on and getting off flights might be easier without the Indian in the wheelchair malarkey to deal with.

    • What were the plans for his elderly parents?

      Come out on a tourist visa and overstay and never leave? Or a long term visitor visa? Standard tourist visa and then fly back, or tourist visa and then fly to NZ and then back for another tourist visa, and repeat ad infinitum?

  3. It’s over. I work in the industry as a contractor and both my clients have had up to 50% of the direct debits from students’ accounts return with “not enough funds in the account’ both of them exclusively enrol overseas students who are from India. With the implementation of social distancing measures the students have lost their jobs in Hospitality and have no prospect of getting another job, leaving them with no choice but to return to India, it’s over.The population ponzi scheme that was the overseas student visa program is finished and so to is the Australian economy which it underpinned.

  4. When unemployment hits 10% the public’s views on the working rights, and pathway to residency for foreign students will turn very nasty.

  5. “Australia will be forced to look at India to fill in that hole in times to come and we may even see some leniencies in admission criteria from private universities,”
    – f*ck off chunt. I hope the virus wipes out everybody like you.

  6. Why do we have a SBS Punjabi when we require all temporary workers and Permanent Residents from India to be fluent in English?

    Are we trying to make their long-stay elderly parents feel more welcome?

    Scrap it.

    We need to go back to a policy aiming for assimilation as much as possible.

    • +1 – it’s 2020, they can watch anything in punjabi via streaming. we don’t need australian taxpayers to subsidise it.

  7. Is the virus the excuse leaders now have to undertake the economic reset a lot of people have been pushing for?

    Is it the enema we had to have?

  8. Leith gets it wrong from the top & he takes a long time to accept reality.

    The foreign students don’t bring money in.
    They don’t come from the middle class of the third world.
    Even their first semester only payment, their fake health check, the bogus ID & documents to sneak in – even that was all on borrowed money to be repaid back by working illegally once they get in.

    They are third world mature adult trash in debt who enter on a pretext visa & fake funds to work.

    To try & snag a PR or off to the AAT for a 5 year extended stay once their Coe & visa churn has run out.

    So whether it’s a 109 million Chinese hukou internal illegals as the agent procurer recruitment pool, or 200 million Indian slum clearance or rurals, or tens of millions of Pak & Bangla’s or Middle Eastern, or the South or North East Asian end of life hookers & abandoned mothers who enter on pretext student visas..
    that’s the recruiter base.

    Entry criteria for a foreign student or partner into Australia.

    ▫️Can they live & work illegally?

    ▫️If Asian do they have vice potential or black market organising & money laundering skills?

    ▫️If Indian etc – do they have a capacity to steal 2 or 3 Australian jobs, work for $5 a hour in the foreign run black market?

    ▫️Can they pretend to be doing an ‘English’ then ‘business studies course’ for 4 years?

    ▫️Can they live in a filthy 2 bed unit in bankstown with 8 others like them & 4 to a room?

    ▫️Can they lie, cheat, steal, and prey on Australia broker borders & corrupted visa system to repay their agent procurer debt & send back remittances?

    ▫️Can they navigate they way thru to a PR & get the rest of their third world burden in as a sponsor (and cash back or loan debt relief from their agent procurer loan shark if they do..)

    👉🏻Leith, FFS – that’s the foreign student & ‘partner’ entry criteria into Australia..

    • I’ll agree with you about the “students”. They are all about 30. None are under 22. They are studying biz, accounting or, if Lebanese, engineering. They are very open about being in Darwin just to work and get residency.

      I’d be very interested to see what percentage of international students become permanent residents and how many of them finish their degrees.

      • Completely agree, question is now that the slave economy has shut down and students don’t quality for new start what are their choices? They cant go back home because of travel bans, all thats left is to beg, borrow or steal, meanwhile their tuition fees are due as well, expect a wave of defaults on tuition fees, threats to cancel visas are empty because of travel bans and students will know this and take advantage, no sector is immune in this crisis