Thursday, August 02, 2012

Fewer students heading to Australia

The number of Indians opting for Australian educational institutes plunged by a quarter in the six months ended 30 June, with prospective students possibly deterred by the perception that Australia is unsafe after Indian students there were targeted in alleged racist attacks in 2009. While Australia has recorded an overall 8.5% decline in international student enrolments from a year earlier, Indian student enrolments dropped by 24.4%, according to government data.

In the first half of this year, 389,356 full-fee international students enrolled in Australia on student visas. Overseas student enrolments in the country have grown at an average pace of 6.6% since 2002, news agency PTI said, citing a government statement. In the first half of 2012, 42,046 students from India enrolled in various Australian educational institutes, compared with 55,595 a year earlier, according to data from the Australian High Commission in New Delhi.

India stands second to China in terms of sending students to Australia. China has sent at least 115,000 students to the island nation so far this year. International education is Australia’s third-largest export industry, generating $18 billion in exports, according to a 2010 study by Curtin University. A decline in the number of international student enrolments has implications for the Australian economy, the report said.

“What happened a few years back has dented the image of Australia among the student community and that is the primary reason for the declining numbers. Students are little apprehensive,” said Vineet Gupta, Managing Director of Jamboree Education Pvt. Ltd, an education company that helps students who want to study abroad. Several Indian students were attacked in Australia in 2009. Nitin Garg, an Indian student, was killed in a Melbourne park in January 2010. The accused was jailed in December for 13 years.

The Australian government isn’t surprised by the development. “Probably, we have bottomed out in terms of the drop in numbers... we will see now a gradual increase,” said Peter Varghese, Australian high commissioner to India. Varghese said the lower numbers were because of a change in policy that now wants more university level students to come to the country.

Even though student enrolments from India have declined significantly in the skills education segment, the south Asian nation still sends the maximum number of students in the segment to Australia, according to Australian government data. Of the 42,046 students from India, more than 31,000 were enrolled in the skills segment, which includes subjects such as hair dressing and cookery.

India has also become Australia’s biggest source of migrants for the first time, eclipsing China and the once-dominant Britain. In 2011-12, permanent migration from India reached 29,018, or 15.7% of Australia’s total migration programme, The Australian newspaper reported last month, citing the country’s immigration minister Chris Bowen. In 2010-11, China was Australia’s biggest source of permanent migrants with 29,547 visas. The year before it was Britain with 25,738 migrants. Britain had held the top position since 1996-97, when current records began, the newspaper report said.

Source: Mint, August 2, 2012
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