Tribune News Service
Amritsar, May 18
The Indian Australian Business Alliance (IABA) has appealed the Indian External Affairs Ministry and Australian High Commission to take up the matter of Indian students studying in Australian universities but stuck here running out of visas to seek exemption from Australia’s travel ban.
Rajinder Singh Marwaha, president of the Indian Australian Business Alliance (IABA), assured that he would raise the issue with Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of Civil Aviation, to help the students from India to get back to Australia and continue their studies. He said both governments must work in tandem to ensure the early return of these students.
The Australian government on Friday had announced that it would consider allowing international students back into the country as early as July, but stopped short of providing a specific timeline, leaving thousands in limbo.
Students who have been stuck in India for the past two months due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions, said July may be too far. Marwaha said nearly 17 per cent of Australia’s seven lakh students are stranded in India.
Seeking support from the Australian educational institutes, Marwaha stated that universities must step-up efforts for overseas students who pay significantly more than the domestic students for the same degrees.
“Universities need to intervene to facilitate the return so we can go back and resume our degrees for which we have paid so much more than domestic students,” he says.
“The fact that the Australian government has simply said it would consider and is hesitating from declaring the specifications of when they will lift the travel ban is only making the situation worse for international students stuck here ,” observes Marwaha.
Harpragaas Singh, who is stuck here and studies at Australian National University, was visiting his parents after two years and his return ticket was booked on April 15. However, his flight was cancelled after the introduction of lockdown.
He suggested that the return process can be well managed by enforcing strict quarantine provisions and adding Covid-19 test to the existing medical examination criteria mandatory for student visa applicants.
As per norms, he said, students and work permit holders were often required to undertake a medical test before being granted a visa. This medical test can include a Covid test, cost of which can be borne by the students, he stated.
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