Universities reel as Indian students ditch Australia

Melbourne: Australian universities and vocational training providers are in serious worry mode. More dismal international student enrolment figures are coming out, with the number of Indians in particular reporting a sharp fall.

Australian education institutes have reported a further fall of 8.7 percent in international enrolments in the first quarter of the year compared with the same period last year. Indian student numbers, according to an article in The Age newspaper, have decreased by over 30 percent.

Indian students continue to be a serious reason for the downturn in Australian international education export industry. The fall in Indian students willing to study in Australia is in continuation of the downward trend triggered by reports of violence against youth from the South Asian country.

India was the second largest source of international students for Australia. Even though India has maintained its second position, there has been a drastic decline in numbers.

China has maintained the top position as the country of origin of international students studying in Australia.

Two other South Asian countries, Nepal (down 19 percent) and Sri Lanka (17 percent), have also followed India in the downward spiral.

A number of Australian experts have blamed the decline in South Asian student numbers on the hardened immigration laws.

Even though the Australian Immigration Department has relaxed student visa rules for India from April 2 this year, the industry is yet to experience the kind of ‘gold rush’ as before the laws were tightened.

Another reason for the massive drop in Indian students opting for higher education in Australia was a scare created by the Indian electronic media which whipped itself into a frenzy over the so-called ‘racial’ attacks on Indian students.

An Australian National Audit Office report on the programme published Tuesday has also criticised the Australian Immigration Department’s processes which were “not sufficiently robust” to keep the industry growth in correct perspective while making laws to ensure integrity of the student visa programme. By Paritosh Parasher