Faster action on Indians' study visas
4:00AM Monday Sep 07, 2009
By Lincoln Tan

A priority visa-processing system to speed student applications from India is to be introduced by Immigration New Zealand after criticism that slow processing is putting the $200 million market at risk.

The Indian Education Group, which represents private training establishments working primarily with the Indian market, said students and agents from the subcontinent were put off by the five-month wait for a New Zealand visa and were heading instead for countries like Britain where the turnaround time for a student visa was seven days.

"Agents in India are saying we have students wanting to come through, but they are just put off by the five-month wait and are sending them away to England," spokesman Paul Chalmers said.

New Zealand had failed to seize the opportunity to lure those who were turning their backs on Australia because of reports of racial violence and exploitation there, he said.

The international student sector is Australia's third-largest export earner, worth A$13 billion ($16.5 billion). Indian students number 95,000 and make up 18 per cent of all foreign students.

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