The country wants more Indians to pursue courses in its universities.

There is good news for students interested in taking up higher studies in Australia.

The Australian government's Department of Immigration and Citizenship recently announced new measures taken to relax student visa rules and encourage more students to come to the country.

It has also upgraded India as a ‘lesser risk country' for higher education sector.

The initiative allows Indian students keen on pursuing bachelor's degree, associate degree, graduate diploma or master's programme in Australia to meet their financial requirements with lesser restrictions.

The new changes would mean that students will have to submit fewer funds in order to obtain the student visa for higher education sector.

“For all the student visa applications that are logged on or after April 1, 2011, students would need to show funds for only two years of their studies as against the present requirement of three years,” said Naresh Gulati, CEO, Oceanic Consultants.

“The funds are required to be only three months old as against the six-month requirement.”

The new rule will also allow students to be sponsored by any individual against the current legal requirement that limits the sponsorship to the applicant's spouse, parents, siblings, grandparents and uncle by meeting certain criterion.

According to educational consultants, attack on Indian students studying in Australia had resulted in increase in checks and decline in interest. Its multibillion dollar education export industry was showing a decline. By relaxing visa rules, Australia also hopes to surpass countries such as the U.S. and the UK in the number of international students it attracts.

Students who have already applied can also enjoy some benefits. “If the student pays the boarding fees to the educational institution in Australia in advance, the prepaid boarding fee would be deducted from the total amount of the living cost that students must show towards living expenses in order to obtain the student visa,” says Mr. Gulati. For more details, visit: www.immi.gov.au