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Australia beckons Gujarati students as US gets tough

Our Regional Bureau  |  Ahmedabad 

With the United States tightening its following the 9/11 attack, Australia has emerged as the next popular destination for students from Gujarat.
Students from Gujarat, opting to study in the US are facing over 70 per cent visa rejection, in spite of completion of all formalities such as having offer letters of the university and the like, said Chandrakant Maniar, general manager of Planet Group, a foreign education consulting firm.
Education in Australia is fast emerging as the second best option for higher education, where visa formalities are very easy and the approval ratio is over 90 per cent, Maniar said. He said this on Friday, when Planet Group launched its second centre in Ahmedabad.
"Most of the students are opting for studying in Australia because of its worldwide recognition and the cost of education is around half compared with the US. With US tightening its visa regulations in the last two years after the 9/11 attack, over 70 per cent of the student visas are being rejected in spite of completion of all the required formalities," said Maniar.
The group sends over 2,000 students abroad every year for higher studies.
Apart from US and Australia, the group counsels students on education prospects in other countries such as Canada, New Zealand, UK, Singapore, and Ireland among others. The group is among the top five educational consultants in India and among the top three educational consultants for Australian education.
The group helps students in selecting course, applying for admission in various universities, getting admissions, assisting in visa and other formalities, briefing students about the university, course and educational environment abroad and to cope with the culture shock among other things.
Planet Group also provides coaching for compulsory entrance tests such as GRE, GMAT, SAT, TOEFL, etc for seeking admission in foreign universities and even spoken English and personality development classes. The group charges between Rs 1,500 to Rs 12,000 for each student, depending upon the nature of services offered.
Maniar said that the average cost incurred by a student to study in the US ranges between $10,000 and $50,000 a year, apart from other expenses.
In Australia though, the cost of education for a year is in between 6,000 and 15,000 Australian dollars. He added that the cost of applying to the US universities is also high and student end up paying around Rs 50,000 even before securing a visa for studies.
"Even while the visa is rejected, the student has already spent about Rs 50,000 on application forms, visa processing fees and the like, which is not refundable," Maniar said.

First Published: Mon, June 07 2004. 00:00 IST