Statistics released in the annual Student Visa Program Trends report show that student visa numbers have experienced a return to sustainable growth in the last two years. This is part of a broader trend during the past 10 years from 2003.
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. When the government decoupled the link between studying in Australia and permanent migration, international student numbers started to decrease from 2009–10.
Student visa lodgements have been growing steadily with an increase of 0.4 per cent in 2011–12 and 3.8 per cent in 2012–13. This growth was driven by applications lodged outside of Australia which increased by 11.1 per cent in the same period. As with lodgements, student visa grants have also been increasing.
In addition, data from the Student Visa Program Quarterly Report shows there were 304 251 student visa holders in Australia as at 30 June 2013. Of these visa holders, 23.4 per cent were from China, the largest cohort, followed by 10 per cent from India.
During the June 2013 quarter, 75 per cent of all student visas were processed within 30 days, while 50 per cent were processed within 14 days. About 93 per cent of applications assessed during this period were granted a visa.