We have talked earlier about how studying in Australia can be unsafe for students and thus how many of them are making the choice to stay at home. Many of the schools in India termed these attacks as unfortunate and something that influenced the relations between India and Australia to a very high degree.
However, the Australian government seems to be interested in maintaining its relations with India and thus Australian deputy Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, who is also a minister for education, employment and workplace relations in Australia, is on a five day visit to India to reassure Indian students that any amount of violence, racial or any, will not be tolerated by the Australian Government.
In a meeting with Kapil Sibal, India’s minister of Human Resource and Development, Gillard said, “Today we also talked about the concerns that there have been for Indian students visiting our country and are there for the purpose of education. I have advised Mr. Sibal that our local police have cracked down the mischief makers; we have extra police in the streets. We have zero-tolerance for violence in Australia, zero-tolerance for violence against Indian students.” Gillard also assured Sibal that the Indian students who were targeted by mobs a couple of months ago in Australia would be taken care of. Earlier this month, India’s foreign minister SM Krishna also visited Australia to talk about student safety in Australia.
Another problem that plagues Australian education system and adversely affects many Indian students every year is the many fraudulent schools that have set up shop there. Many migration and education agents have been found cheating Indian students (along with many other foreign students) with assured admissions in Australian Institutes and were also offering fake work experience certificates. Gilard said that Australian institutes not providing quality education to Indian students would be driven out of business. Sibal added, “they have assured us that either they (the students affected by fraud institution scams) will be accommodated in another educational institution to continue their studies or they shall be compensated for the loss of money that has been caused on account of the fact that the education institution(s) have been closed.”
These are welcome developments for students targeting Australian institutes for higher education. In 2007 alone, close to 40,000 students from India went to Australia to pursue higher education. Although it has still not been ascertained if the attacks were racists or were a media hype or whether the actual numbers were inflated, the assurance given by the deputy Prime Minister will make sure that Indian students who want to pursue higher education abroad can keep their options open.