In his address to the Indian community in Australia, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said that he has been assured that the problem of visa backlog, particularly in respect to students, would be solved by the end of the year.
The visa backlog issue is of utmost concern to the Indian students who are trying to return to educational institutions in Australia following the Covid pandemic.
“And I want to tell you that it was something that I took up with different ministers when I was in Canberra. We have a particular problem that students are facing,” Jaishankar, who is on a two-day visit to Australia, said.
Jaishankar, who is on his second visit to Australia, said he was assured that the situation has improved and about 77,000 Indian students are back in Australia.
“But you all know that the numbers should be and could be much higher and I was assured that by the end of the year the visa backlog, particularly in respect to students, would be cleared,” he said.
The minister also said that it’s not just a problem for students but also for many other Indians who want to travel due to family reasons. He also applauded the resumption of tourism in Australia and other countries of the world post-Covid pandemic.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2021 census, Australia’s Indian diaspora numbers approximately 700,000, and Indians are expected to outnumber Chinese-born Australians over the next decade.
Significantly, it is the second-highest taxpaying diaspora after the British, making it clear that it is a group making significant contributions to Australia’s economy.
The minister emphasised that there will be a legal framework for talented Indians to move to another country for work.
“Indian skills and talents that are in demand in Australia will have a legal framework, an agreed methodology by which they move from one country to another,” Jaishankar said.
He also underlined the new areas of focus in our partnership, including education, technology, resources and mobility.
“I think what is really exciting about our relationship today are the enormous possibilities that we are now looking at, and foremost among them is education,” Jaishankar said, adding that education can be the avenue by which India Australia relationship could advance in a much more expansive manner.
“We want our students to understand the world better, and we want our students to be prepared for a global workplace… in this we regard Australia as a particularly important partner,” he added.
Roughly, 105,000 students study in Australian universities at the moment. According to Bengaluru-based RedSeer Strategy, the total number of Indian students studying abroad will stand at around 1.8 million by 2024.
The report further added that Indian students would be spending $75-85 billion annually on higher education abroad by 2024.