Melbourne, May 30 (ANI): The recent attacks on Indian students in Melbourne could severely hit Australia's lucrative education industry, agents in India who help arrange student placements have warned.
The assaults attracted a blaze of publicity in India for the third consecutive day yesterday, prompting some students and parents to re-evaluate plans to study in Australia.
Bubbly Johar, who runs Johar's Education Centre, an education consultancy in New Delhi, said many parents of students considering education in Australia had contacted him because they are worried about safety.
"These attacks will definitely have an impact on the market because parents are calling me up and they are very concerned," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Johar, who is vice-president of the Association of Australian Education Representatives in India, as saying.
"The media coverage here is encouraging parents to rethink whether they should send their children to Australia for studies. We can't assure them that they will be safe - it's a very precarious situation for us," Johar added.
Taxpayer-funded advertising in India that promotes Australian education services has been undermined by days of negative publicity about the violence.
Three English-language newspapers - Hindustan Times, The Times Of India and The Hindu - ran stories about recent student attacks on their front pages yesterday.
Education is Australia's third-largest export earner behind coal and iron ore. The number of Indians studying in Australia has more than doubled since 2006 to 93,000. It is estimated this group contributed about two billion dollars to the economy last financial year.
But Arun Bhutani from AB Educational Avenues agency, which arranges for more than 1000 students a year to study in Australia, is bracing for a slump in demand.
Rupesh Duggal from Cambridge Immigration and Education Services in Punjab said: "There is a growing perception that people in Australia don't like students from India and this is affecting our business."
A team of Victorian police and fire brigade officers will arrive in India tomorrow to brief students bound for Australia on staying safe. (ANI)