An almost 10 per cent drop in students going to Australia is causing concern. The effect of anti-Asian comments by MP Pauline Hanson and financial turmoil in the markets was being monitored, said head of the Australian International Education Foundation John Rowling. The Australian Consulate-General issued 2,665 student visas from January to September this year, a drop of 8.9 per cent compared to the same period last year. But the Australian Government has been assured restrictions on mainland students studying overseas will not be applied to Hong Kong. Mr Rowling, chief executive of the Canberra-based body, said he had been told by Hong Kong officials that the current arrangements would remain unchanged. 'The sorts of controls imposed on mainland students had not applied to Hong Kong. There's a free flow of students. We are quite pleased with that,' he said. He said officials were investigating whether the publicity about racism was scaring away students. Students were being encouraged to report cases of discrimination and difficulties in their study, he said. Mr Rowling said the recent currency turmoil might pose financial difficulties for students in some Asian countries because of depreciation of their currencies. It was six per cent cheaper to study in Australia than four months ago, he said. Canada was now three per cent cheaper and the United States one per cent.