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'Death knell' for overseas students
Old 22nd June 2010, 02:04 AM   #1
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Default 'Death knell' for overseas students

UNIVERSITIES and colleges have condemned the Rudd government for seeking new powers to nullify the residency applications of potentially thousands of former overseas students, labelling it "the kiss of death" for the $18.6 billion industry.

As overseas students warned of more street protests this weekend, veteran University of NSW pro-vice-chancellor Jennie Lang warned that any suggestion of "capping" student numbers would be "the kiss of death" and turn away prospective students.

"It will trigger a massive downturn in applications to Australia and an upturn in applications to the UK and the US," Ms Lang told The Australian.

"The messages students are hearing through various channels is that Australia no longer wants international students, migrants or foreign investment."

Amid mounting attacks from the education sector, Immigration Minister Chris Evans yesterday said the government had no intention of putting a limit on the number of overseas student visas. He said the government wanted to control only the number of visas in key occupations, and graduate students could still apply for 18-month temporary work visas.

But Monash demographer Bob Birrell said the Department of Immigration and Citizenship had accepted thousands of skilled migration visa applications from former students since the beginning of last year when the critical skills list was introduced. "In principle, the new legislation, if passed, could be used to annul some of these visas and application money returned without Immigration considering the application," he said.

Overseas students fund a quarter of university teaching.

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