The flow of Indian students to Australia for higher studies has substantially reduced but it could be due to the stringent migration policies than incidences of attacks on Indian students there, the Australian envoy said on Friday.
"There is a large reduction in the number of Indian students, but I caution you from linking it to attacks. This reduction was because of change in the immigration policies," said Australian high commissioner Peter Varghese.
"Unlike the earlier generations, the Indian students over the last few years are going for private vocational courses that help them in attaining PR (permanent residence status). Like there were cookery and hair dressing courses, but we have changed the rules and these no longer lead to PR," he added.
On the drop in the number of Indian students, Varghese said the year on year decrease would be around 80 percent. He said that the Australian government had also shut down many inferior institutes.
"Institutes that were not offering quality education to foreign students were also closed on the directions of the government. This number is around 20 to 30. Some of them were closed down due to financial constraints," said Varghese at a meet-the-press at Press Club here.
"Some attacks could have racial elements and we obviously condemn them, but it would be a mistake to conclude that every incident was racial. These issues have now calmed down very significantly compared to a year ago," stated Varghese.
"Indian students have financial pressure, work late nights at high risk occupations, like driving taxis, and stay at high-criminal neighbourhoods. We have taken a number of preventive steps to make foreign students safe. Our criminal justice system is also dealing strictly with the culprits," he pointed out.
During the last couple of years many incidents of attacks on Indian students, including some motivated by racial elements, were reported. Two youths from Punjab were also murdered by the attackers.
After these incidents, a sudden decline was observed in the number of applicants for Australia and students started moving towards other safer destinations.