According to reports, the recruitment body IDP Education Australia has reported a 80 per cent fall in appointments by students at its 14 Indian offices.
According to The Australian and news.com.au, a severe fall in applications from Indian students for training diplomas and certificates would lead to widespread closures in the vocational sector of the type seen in Sydney and Melbourne over the past fortnight, The Australian reports.
In addition, The Brisbane Times reports that one of India's most senior ministers will meet overseas students over the issue of violent attacks and corrupt education organisations during his next Australian visit.
Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna, will also meet leading state and federal politicians and police during his visit to Melbourne and Sydney, the news.com.au website reports.
IDP chief executive Tony Pollock yesterday conceded that a 'head-count' survey conducted late last month had revealed an 80 per cent decline in visits from prospective students to the organisation's Indian offices.
The Indian market is the sector's biggest growth area but is under threat amid the fall-out from a spate of assaults on Indian students and revelations that students are being exploited by unscrupulous private colleges and fraudulent agents.
At the same time, tightened immigration rules threaten to undermine Indian demand for the permanent residency-driven vocational sector.
Senior higher education administrators have been spooked by news of last month's collapse in demand, which was conveyed to them by IDP in a briefing on the export education industry's health.
The International Education Association of Australia, which represents the international student business arms of universities, cautioned that it was too early to be drawing conclusions on Indian demand.
But Melbourne University vice-chancellor Glyn Davis said the sector was worried.
He said that while Melbourne had the nation's highest proportion of students on one campus, Indian students made up only a relatively small proportion.
Education Minister Julia Gillard yesterday acknowledged that some educational institutions were providing 'sub-standard' service to foreign students.
Gillard said the government was working to rub out poor practices that had come to the fore of debate about whether Australia was meeting its obligations to international students.
She will visit India later this year to discuss the issue, as will Trade Minister Simon Crean and possibly Kevin Rudd.