Australia sees rise in Indian students’ applications

New Delhi: After a decline, Australia is once again registering a rise in number of Indian students applying for admissions to its universities, an official said Tuesday, adding that the country was safe for them.

Ted Baillieu, premier of Australia’s Victoria province who is visiting India, said that the number of Indian students in Australia saw a rise and the southern nation was totally safe for Indian students.

“We have started to see an increase in number of students again. The state has taken steps to ensure safety of the students and we are very serious about it,” Baillieu said, replying to a query.

He was talking to reporters at a function to award 10 scholarships for Ph.D. students from India going to various Australian universities. Seven agreements for association between Australia and India were also signed.

Talking on the sidelines of the press meet, Australian High Commissioner Peter Varghese said around 30 per cent increase had been noticed, as compared to last year, in the number of student applications for Australian universities so far.

“There has been a significant increase in number of applications received and the number of students applying for universities in Australia. The increase is almost 30 per cent compared to last year,” Varghese said.

A major decline was noted in the number of Indian students going to Australia in 2010-11.

“Compared to the peak years of 2008 and 2009, there was a nearly 40 per cent drop,” Varghese said.

Varghese, however, said the incidents were not the main reason behind the decline.

“There was decline not just in the number of Indian students but in the number of students from all countries. It was because of the overall economic scenario, and high (Australian) dollar value,” he said.

Baillieu informed reporters that vigil had been increased to ensure safety of students there. “There is more patrolling, more police presence. We have taken it seriously,” he said.

More than 100 incidents of attacks on Indian students were reported in 2009 and 2010 in Australia, mainly in its Victoria province.

Varghese said new visa rules were attracting more applications. “The new visa rules allow students to stay for a few years after completing their degree and work, so more students are applying,” he said.

The new visa rules announced last year allow students to stay back from two-four years after getting degrees and also allow them to work.

Canberra had earlier tightened visa regime for Indian students, stating that a number of them come to Australia to settle down by taking admissions in non-skilled vocational courses like cookery and hair-cutting. It had implied that this was one of the reasons for a series of attacks on Indian youths here.