Indian students ditch Oz; Envoy says not due to racial attacks

Chandigarh, Jan 14 (PTI) There has been a "largereduction" in the number of Indian students going toAustralia, its High Commissioner Peter Varghese said today butclaimed that it was not due to the spate of racial attacksagainst the community there.

"For the last 18 months, the situation (Indianstudents going to Australia for studies) is disturbed, but itwill bounce back soon," he told reporters here.

Varghese said that there had been a "large reduction"in Indian students going to Australia, but did not spell outany figures.

He, however, said that it should not be linked toincidents of attacks on Indians and attributed the trend tochanges in Australia''s immigration policy.

"There were private vocational courses of cookery andhair dressing that led to Permanent Residency (PR), but it isnot so now," the Australian High Commissioner said.

Over 100 incidents of attacks on Indians in Australiahave been reported since June 2009.

The envoy said, "There were some racial attacks.... Wecondemn these ...but it would be a mistake to conclude thatevery incident was racial."

He listed a number of steps taken by authorities,including increasing police patrolling and briefing Indianstudents, to check attacks on foreign students.

"Unlike the earlier generation of Indian students, thepresent students are going for vocational programmes thatleads to permanent residency," he said, adding that they wereinvolved in occupation with higher risks and also living incriminal infested areas as it was cheap there.

He said that between 20 to 30 institutes in Australiahad been closed down for not providing adequate services tothe students.

The envoy said that there were three lakh people ofIndian diaspora in Australia and the government was going tostart a special promotion campaign next year focusing onIndian students.

"We will conduct seminars in Chandigarh and othernorthern cities as part of promotion campaign," he said.

The High Commissioner pointed out that the proportionof international students to local students was much higher inAustralia than in any part of the world.

He said that the new immigration policy of Australiawas demand driven instead of supply driven.

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