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Indian students ditch Oz

Chandigarh: There has been a "large reduction" in the number of Indian students going to Australia, its High Commissioner Peter Varghese said on Friday but claimed that it was not due to the spate of racial attacks against the community there.

"For the last 18 months, the situation (Indian students going to Australia for studies) is disturbed, but it will 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 out any figures.

He, however, said that it should not be linked to incidents of attacks on Indians and attributed the trend to changes in Australia`s immigration policy.

"There were private vocational courses of cookery and hair dressing that led to Permanent Residency (PR), but it is not so now," the Australian High Commissioner said.

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

The envoy said, "There were some racial attacks…. We condemn these …but it would be a mistake to conclude that every incident was racial."

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

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

He said that between 20 to 30 institutes in Australia had been closed down for not providing adequate services to the students.

The envoy said that there were three lakh people of Indian diaspora in Australia and the government was going to start a special promotion campaign next year focusing on Indian students.

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

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

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

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