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Demonetization hurting Indian students bound for Australia

Delays in bank loans for higher studies may prevent thousands from heading out in February, according to a new report, but things could ease up in six months
BY Braingain Staff Writer |   23-01-2017
Students in the computer science building at Macquarie University (photo by James, used under CC license)

Australian education representatives in India forecast a 30% to 35% decline in the number of students going to Australia from India next month, The PIE News reported on Thursday. The representatives say this is due to India’s decision to demonetize Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes last November.

The delay in putting new Rs 500 and Rs 2,000 notes into circulation has slowed the processing of bank loans to students going abroad, particularly affecting those who are heading to Australian universities in February, according to the Association of Australian Education Representatives in India (AAERI).

According to AAERI, nearly 75% of students who go to Australia take out loans to pay for the first semester’s tuition fees. AAERI president Rahul Gandhi says that in each intake, roughly 12,000 to 14,000 Indian applicants seek Australian visas. The PIE News report quoted him as saying, “This will impact [a minimum of] 4,000 applicants.”

The report added that AAERI had sent a list of preferred education providers in Australia to the Indian Banking Association, in a bid to speed up loan processing. The 43 names on the list included Macquarie University, James Cook University, and the Australian campus of the University College London, the report said.

It quoted Gandhi as saying that besides delays, declining property values in India would also affect the loans that students are able to get.

Many education agencies in India have voiced concerns that demonetization would affect outbound students in the short term. Some say that initial repercussions may be seen in the next six months, but that students going to the UK, US, and Canada are less likely to be affected, since they typically depart India in the second half of the year.

The PIE News report quoted a consultant as saying that some Australian institutions are allowing later start dates and being flexible with fee payment schedules because they are aware of the impact of demonetization.

The report said Universities Australia, the representative body for universities in that country, had noted that its member universities had not reported any major issues so far relating to demonetization. It quoted the body’s deputy chief, Catriona Jackson, as saying, “Our best information is that there was a very small decline in the applications lodged by Indian citizens outside of Australia in December.” She also pointed to an increase in applications in January 2017, the report noted.

“Students need to note, however, that their complete visa applications must be lodged at least four weeks before their courses are due to start,” it quoted her as saying

Demonetization has hurt visa processing. A PIE News report published in December 2016 quoted a study abroad consultant as saying her agency had been receiving requests from clients to arrange cash to pay visa service fees. However, it quoted another agent as saying the impact would be greater on tuition fee payments.

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