Are Indian students fooling varsities down under?

Members of the University of North Carolina’s diverse student body mingle and make their way across campus as the Supreme Court weighs the issue of race-conscious admissions to colleges, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, U.S., March 28, 2023. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake (REUTERS)
Members of the University of North Carolina’s diverse student body mingle and make their way across campus as the Supreme Court weighs the issue of race-conscious admissions to colleges, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, U.S., March 28, 2023. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake (REUTERS)

Summary

Two Australian universities, Federation University in Victoria and Western Sydney University in New South Wales, stopped taking Indian students from some states in May

Several Australian universities have banned or restricted the intake of students from select Indian states, according to reports in The Sydney Morning Herald. What lies behind these bans, and how will they affect the dreams of Indians planning to study in Australia? Mint explains:

Which universities have placed a ban?

Two Australian universities, Federation University in Victoria and Western Sydney University in New South Wales, stopped taking Indian students from some states in May. Federation University has barred students from Punjab, Haryana, J&K, Uttarakhand and UP. Western Sydney University has paused intakes from Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat for May and June. In April, at least four other unis—Victoria, Edith Cowan, Torrens and Southern Cross—took similar measures. Two others—Wollongong and Flinders—amended their application process in March for foreign students from “high risk" countries.

What’s the reason for these restrictions?

Universities say Indian students dropped out after taking admission in 2022 and moved to cheap vocational colleges. Such students have been labelled “fraudulent" or “non-genuine" by visa and college authorities. With the rise in such cases, the rejection rate for applicants has also risen to 20.1% from 12.5% in 2019. For India, it is 24.3%, the highest since 2012. The racket runs thus: Indian agents, who charge a fee, get students placed in expensive private colleges with a higher acceptance rate. Once the students arrive in Australia, they are moved to low-cost programmes by counterparts of Indian agents.

Graphic: Mint
View Full Image
Graphic: Mint

Are more Indians going to Australia to study?

There was a surge in 2022-23, after a decline during the covid years. More than 52,000 Indians have been granted student visas in the first six months of this academic year, more than the total for 2021-22, at 42,627, according to department of home affairs of Australia. If the trend continues, it may surpass the previous high of 66,449 in 2018-19.

Why were Indians dropping out?

Experts say Indians are gaming two policies: permission to change college and relaxation in student working hours during covid. Students in Australia were earlier allowed to work for 20 hours a week, which was lifted during covid. Many students apparently started working full-time during covid and stopped going to college. Some moved to low-cost colleges, making hefty savings. The working hour relaxation ends on 30 June. The loopholes may also have been exploited by low-skill work visa seekers.

How will the ban impact applicants?

Even if short-term, the move could severely impact applications to Australia, says a visa consultant. It could create uncertainty among parents, bringing down the preference for Australia as an education destination. It’s the 4th most visited country after the US, Canada and the UK by Indian students. Australia could have gone for policy changes instead of a ban, which will hit genuine applicants. Authorities could have disallowed change of institution or put a higher commencement fee to dissuade students from moving.

Catch all the Education News and Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates & Live Business News.
more

topics

MINT SPECIALS