The number of student visas granted for studying in Australia has returned to a sustainable growth in the last two years.

This is part of a broader trend during the last 10 years. According to statistics released in the annual Student Visa Programme Trends report, between 2005 and 2009 overseas student numbers, particularly in the vocational education and training sector, increased at an unsustainable rate due to many people using student visas as a pathway to skilled migration.

student visas

Student visa applications from 10 of the top 15 source countries has increased​

When the government decoupled the link between studying in Australia and permanent migration, international student numbers started to decrease from 2009 to 2010.

The data shows that since then student visa applications have been growing steadily with an increase of 0.4% in 2011 to 2012 and 3.8% in 2012 to 2013. There were 290,761 applications lodged this year which compares with 280,003 last year.

This growth was driven mainly by applications lodged outside of Australia which increased by 11.1% to 163,793 compared with the previous year. In the same period, onshore applications decreased by 4.2 per cent to 126,968.

The number of student visa holders in Australia decreased by 0.9% between 30 June 2012 when there were 307,050 students and 30 June 2013 when there were 304,251 students.

On 30 June 2013 some 57.5% of student visa holders in Australia held a Higher Education visa and 22.6% held a VET visa. Of these 23.4% were from China, 9.9% from India and 5.6% from Vietnam.

Offshore applications from Chinese nationals increased by 22.2% and from Indian nationals there was a rise of 18.4%. Overall, visa applications from 10 of the top 15 source countries increased.

During the June 2013 quarter, 75% of all student visas were processed within 30 days, while 50% were processed within 14 days. About 93% of applications assessed during this period were granted a visa.

The highest growth was for Higher Education visas, which increased by 14.1%. There was also offshore growth in 2012/2013 for Postgraduate Research, Non-award and AusAID and Defence sponsored visas at 10.1%, 9.3% and 17.5% respectively compared with the previous year.