Sydney, Jan 7 (ANI): The number of Indian students applying for visas to study in Australia has fallen by almost half, increasing fears for the country's 17 billion dollar international education industry.
The decline follows a year in which reports of attacks on Indians and unscrupulous practices by some colleges and migration agents have dented Australia's reputation as a safe education destination.
The Immigration Department figures, for the period from July to October 31 last year, show a 46 per cent drop in student visa applications from India compared with the same period in 2008, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
The figures also show overall offshore student visa applications dropping by 26 per cent. Applications from Nepal plummeted 85 per cent, from 5696 to 845, and those from Korea, Brazil and the United States each fell by about 20 per cent.
However, applications from China increased slightly, by 0.2 per cent, and those from Vietnam rose 19 per cent.
The chief executive of Universities Australia, Glenn Withers, said the number of Indians applying to study at universities had dropped by about 20 per cent on the previous year.
He said a reduction in Indian students would be likely to have a greater impact on vocational colleges, where a greater proportion of Indians enrolled.
But Dr Withers said there were anecdotal reports that negative publicity had caused some middle-class Indian parents to turn to universities in countries such as Britain and Canada.
Andrew Smith, the chief executive of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training, which represents private colleges, said he was expecting a significant decline in enrolments this year from several countries, including India and China. (ANI)