New Delhi: As the number of foreign students surges sharply, Australia is undertaking to review its student visa policy for the crucial sector which forms the country’s third biggest export industry.

Between 2001 to 2010, the figure of international students studying in Australia has more than doubled to nearly five lakh.

The review was also necessary as officials found out that study in Australia was being used as a backdoor entry channel for migrating Down Under.

"Some students came to Australia to undertake an education in order to gain permanent residence without any intention of undertaking employment related to their course of
study," says a discussion paper circulated by the Australian government.

The Ministry of Immigration and Citizenship and the Ministry of Tertiary Education Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations have appointed former minister Michael Knight to conduct an independent strategic review of Australia's student visa programme.

Knight was in India earlier this month and held meetings with top government officials and university representatives on the review process.

The Australian Government has also issued a discussion paper on the review programme and invited submissions from stakeholders by April 15.

"The number of international students in Australia has increased quite dramatically and it was felt that it was time to have a look at the setting. What is the appropriate mix of education policy and migration policy and how they mesh together," Knight said.

He said he would be submitting his recommendations to the government by middle of this year.