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Attacks on Indians not racial: Australia study

world Updated: Aug 11, 2011 16:05 IST

Indian students are robbed more frequently than the general average in Australia and are more likely to be assaulted than other foreign pupils, but race was not the reason, a report found Thursday.

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) study, commissioned by Canberra after a diplomatically bruising spate of attacks against Indians, found they suffered higher than average rates of robbery.

Indians were also more likely to be assaulted than other international students, according to the study of scholars from China, India, Malaysia, South Korea and the United States -- Australia's top education markets.

But the report downplayed race as a motive in such crimes, despite the attacks on Indian students in 2009 and 2010 which saw a drop-off in the number of lucrative overseas students coming to Australia from the country.

"Although the findings... indicated higher than average rates of robbery among Indian international students compared with the general population, and higher rates of assault for Indian students compared with students from other countries, they should not yet be interpreted as evidence of racism," it said.

Though it was "undeniable" that some of the widely-publicised attacks on Indian students had a racial motive, the report said there were many other reasons why they were targeted.

Indians were "known to have a greater proficiency in English" than other non-native speakers and were therefore much more likely to get retail or service sector jobs.

This typically involved working late night shifts alone which came "with an increased risk of crime, either at the workplace or while travelling to and from work" on public transport, the report found.

They were also likely to be earning a wage, to be carrying valuables and electronic goods such as iPods and mobile phones, which made them targets, it said.

The study said more than 300,000 foreign students enrol in Australian institutions every year, with international education now worth Aus$18.3 billion (US$18.8 billion) -- the nation's third-largest export industry.