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Safety preys on students’ minds

The Age    |     16 October 2012

“Even if I wanted to go to Australia, and I got the course I wanted, there is no way I could convince my mum and dad,” a young Indian student told British Council researchers in Delhi last month.

The student’s parents are not alone in worrying about sending their offspring to Australia. The number of Indian students enrolled in our colleges and universities has collapsed over the past three years — from 121,000 in 2009 down to 48,000 by August this year — at an estimated cost to the national economy of more than $2 billion.

Figures compiled by the government’s Australian international education agency reveal higher education enrolments of Indian students fell from 27,500 three years ago to fewer than 12,000 by August. Yet the number from China has continued its rapid rise — up from 64,400 in 2009 to 92,000.

Savage attacks on Indian students in Melbourne and Sydney three years ago created a media storm across India and that, coupled with the rising value of the Australian dollar and tighter immigration restrictions, has had an overwhelming impact on Indian attitudes on Australia as a study destination.

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