The number of Indian students enrolling at Australian universities for the 2011 academic year is set to plunge by 80 percent, an academic said.
Melbourne University Vice-Chancellor Glyn Davis said that higher education across Australia, including Victoria, is taking a big hit after reports of attacks against students from the Indian sub-continent.
Davis told reporters here: "According to our best sources ... the fall in applications from India into Australian tertiary education ... are predicting at around 80 percent, some institutions are reporting up to 90."
"We did have a system where everything was growing. It's no longer true, so we are going to have to go back and look again," Australian news agency AAP quoted Davis as saying Thursday.
There had been a string of attacks on Indian students in Australia, causing outrage in India. The assaults took place here as well in Sydney. One of the attacks proved fatal when a student, Nitin Garg, was knifed in January.
Davis said: "We are the only country in the world that is having this sharp fall, which tells you that whatever the factors are that are driving it, they're about what we do in Australia."
The academic said Australia had never been the first destination of choice for Indian students.
"There's no doubt that the climate in India was deeply critical of the way Australians had handled it, and there was also no doubt it was going to affect people's willingness to come here."
He went on to say that "it takes a long time to rebuild a reputation...You only do it through patient diplomacy, you do it through endless delegations, you do it through scholarships, and you have to work very hard with the community at home to make it clear that there are ... really disturbing consequences."