Melbourne, June 4 (ANI): While Australia has done so well in attracting 400,000 students from Asia for several reasons, none of which has to do with the quality of the education, there is a lot more the country can do to improve their lot, feels a senior Australian editor.
"We are cheaper than the US or Britain, we are in a more sympathetic time zone and, until recently, we had the reputation for being safer. Most importantly, Australian higher education leads to a track for a permanent residency visa," says Greg Sheridian, the foreign affairs editor of The Australian.
Criticizing the government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd for its belated response to the recent spate of bashings of Indian students in Melbourne, Sheridian describes it is an appalling episode in the nation's history.
"It is a serious social, educational, diplomatic and probably economic crisis that no one is taking seriously enough. The performance of John Brumby's Victorian Government has been pathetic. It has stumbled from bland denial to belated symbolism, never acknowledging the gravity of the problem or its own culpability and not taking any serious action to confront it. The Rudd Government's response also has been belated, but there is a better sense in Canberra of the problem's dimensions," he says.
To substantiate his view, he says that in the last financial year alone, nearly 1500 assaults and robberies were committed on people of Indian origin in Victoria, up by nearly one-third from the year before.
He laments that the education system in Australia "has become ramshackle and exploitative. We do not give value for money."
He suggests that the Australian government introduce a home visits scheme, where ordinary Australians invite foreign students for a weekend meal?
"After all, foreign students are not only dollars and cents, they're also human beings," he says.
These bashings, he says, have developed into a foreign policy crisis.
"This is because of the blanket, at times hysterical, coverage in the Indian media. But before we get too high and mighty condemning the Indian media, just imagine our response if dozens of Australian tourists had been racially selected for bashing in, say, Fiji or Malaysia. Just think of the talkback radio and tabloid reaction we would create.
These bashings have been reported all across the world," Sheridian said.
He concludes by saying that: "It is infinitely more important to deal with the problem than to try to deal with the perception. Solve the problem and the spin will look after itself." (ANI)