With global recession biting hard, Australia has launched a multi-million-dollar campaign to ensure that Indian students continue to come in Melbourne for higher studies, as they have been doing in large numbers in recent years.
An estimated 95,000 Indian students joined Australian institutions of higher education in the first 11 months of 2008. Indians form the second highest population of overseas students in Australia, after the Chinese.
The Australian government will also target China, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia in its Aus$3.5 million (US$2.3 million) drive to ensure that it continues to get students from these countries. India and these four countries provide the bulk of the international students studying in Australian universities and colleges.
Australia has reason to worry about a potential slowdown in enrolments from overseas as international education is its third largest export industry after coal and iron ore.
The drive to prop up the Aus$15- billion industry would include a series of seminars and special global events. Renowned Australian academics would participate in these events to lure not only the average vocational and university students but also researchers to enrol in premium Australian institutes.
The Australian government would also, as a part of the campaign, extend "greater strategic advice" for its providers of higher education. Education agents would be trained to counsel overseas students from these five countries in a more competent manner.
India would be the prime target of the campaign.
There has been a huge increase in the number of Indian students in Australian institutes. The enrolments have been going up at an average annual rate of around 41 per cent since 2002.