M A I N   N E W S

Oz knew Indians weren’t safe
‘Ignored repeated warnings about student safety’
Dinesh Kumar writes from Melbourne

Missing students

La Trobe University in Melbourne, where part of the film ‘Salaam Namaste’ was shot, has registered a 50 per cent fall in the number of Indian students this academic year compared to the previous, which is significant since 22 per cent of this university’s international students are from India.

Less than a week after Victoria’s police chief confessed to his force being aware of Indian students being victim of violence for over two years has come the revelation that both the federal and state governments consistently ignored warnings about serious problems in the international educational sector from the apex body - Universities Australia (UA) - which represents all 39 universities in the country.

All problems affecting Indian students today, from student safety, poor-quality colleges, lack of concessions on public transport and immigration matters, were brought to the attention of the government by UA two years ago.

In particular, UA passed on to Australian authorities warnings from officials in India and China relating to student safety. It also conveyed to both the federal and state governments about student disenchantment resulting from a perception they were being treated like “cash cows”, The Age newspaper reported today.

The adverse affect of the government’s mismanagement of its third largest export, the A$ 15-17 billion education industry, is also being felt by mainstream Australian universities which have begun to record a decline in the number of international students, especially from India. This is a matter of concern for many Australian universities since overseas students account for 25 per cent of the student community and 15 per cent revenue.

In addition to a plummeting number in Indian student applications, there has been a tenfold increase in the number of student visa rejections for study in private vocational colleges by Australia’s High Commission and its two consulates in India. About 16 private vocational colleges have closed down since last July. It is expected that more such colleges, which are where most of over 50,000 Indian students are studying in Victoria alone, will close down.

UA chief executive Glenn Withers said that he was disappointed as federal and state governments did not treat the problems as a priority when they were told about them two years ago but acted with urgency only when violent attacks on Indian students attracted intense media attention.

Withers said they were disappointed that earlier warnings took the unfortunate development of street assaults to lead to the reforms that should have been in place already. “We saw this two years ago as an issue, tried to transmit it to the government but met resistance,” he was quoted as saying. Withers said that he warned the government that this was a “reputational” and “Brand Australia” issue, but both federal and state governments were not interested in listening. Neither was the government accepting of the UA’s desire to work with them to tackle the problem of the vocational training sector. “We were told basically: ‘This is not a matter for you….you have no place at our table’,” he said.

Withers said that they had also raised concerns over the link between international education and immigration with the federal government, which, however, he claims was so “enamoured of short-term labour market convenience (to) employers”.



Two booked for attack on Indian

Two persons, including a teenage boy, have been charged in connection with the robbery and assault of an Indian national in Brisbane, the first attack against the community in Australia's Queensland province this year. The 25-year-old Indian, whose name was not revealed, was using a telephone box in Macgregor in Brisbane's south on Thursday night when he was attacked and punched to the side of the head and robbed of his wallet. Police have charged a 15-year-old boy and a 20-year-old youth "with actual violence" while in company over the incident, AAP reported today. — PTI



HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |