Oz paper says of the 54 foreign student deaths, half were Indians

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Melbourne, July 1 (ANI): An investigation by The Age, an Australian daily, has established that around 54 foreign students were killed in the country between November 2008 and now.

It said that a majority of the students - nearly half - were Indian, while the remainder were from Korea and China.

Figures reveal that Indians were holding one-fifth of the total student visas at that time.

This revelation by The Age comes even as Australian coroners continue to suppress details of the deaths amid evidence that the death toll is higher than the Federal Government has admitted.

State and territory coroners, under the National Coroners Information System, have refused an application by The Age for data on the deaths of overseas students in the year to November 2008.

A spokeswoman for Victorian Coroner Jennifer Coate said last night that the information would not be made public because it was not exhaustive.

"The nationality and occupation of someone who has died is not required to be automatically recorded," she said.

The refusal came after the National Coroners Information System previously indicated that the information would be made available to The Age.

In February, under questioning in Parliament, the Government said 51 overseas students died in that year, with 34 dying of "unknown" causes. Fourteen cases were cited as accidents and three as death from illness.

The Government numbers showed no suicides, but the real figure is at least three.

The revelations came as unrest and controversy continued in India over claims of racist attacks against students in Sydney and Melbourne.

A leading expert on international education, Monash University business professor Chris Nyland, said he was concerned that a drive to protect Australia's lucrative 15.5 billion dollar higher education export market was masking the suffering of foreign students.

Professor Nyland said there was a need for a federal advisory body on student safety, made up of independent members free from "vested interests in seeing this thing dampened down and going away quietly".

He called for mandatory statistical reporting of international student deaths.

National Union of Students president David Barrow said the Government faced losing billions in revenue if it failed to protect overseas students.

Currently, if an overseas student dies here, the education provider is not required to give a cause of death when it reports the matter to the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

Under the law, a college needs to report a death within a fortnight of early "termination" of studies.

But it is left up to the college how thoroughly it reacts.

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Julia Gillard said the law would be reviewed this year and next.(ANI)

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