International student sector in crisis: Australian Greens

16:00, January 07, 2010      

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Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said on Thursday that Australia's international student sector was in crisis and billions of dollars were at risk amid the escalating violence against foreign students.

She said racism should not be ruled out as a potential cause for recent attacks on Indian students and called on the government to take action as the impact of the attacks was already being felt across the international education sector.

"While the recent attacks are subject to a formal police investigation, to simply rule out the possibility that racism was involved is neither good leadership nor smart diplomacy in an environment of increased violence," Hanson-Young said.

"The government's hear no evil, see no evil approach is doing little to allay the fears of international students, their parents and their communities," she said.

However, Immigration Department spokesman Sandy Logan said claims of racism and violence against foreign students were not necessarily to blame for the drop in visa applications.

He indicated the Immigration Department had tightened its scrutiny of applications and had been rejecting a higher number of applications from India.

"It was a targeted series of checks as a result of analysis which suggested the risk was most significant in India, Mauritius, Nepal, Brazil, Zimbabwe and Pakistan," he said.

Enrollments of Indian students in Australia have fallen 46 percent over recent months and international student enrollments are down by 20 percent, figures that will impact the nation's 15 billion Australian dollar (13.8 billion U.S. dollar) higher education sector.

Source: Xinhua
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