There has been a sharp fall in the number of Indians applying for visas to study in Australia, a media report on Thursday said. The development comes following a string of assaults, including two killings, on Indian students.
The immigration department figures for the period from July to Oct 31 last year show a 46 per cent drop in student visa applications from India compared with the same period in 2008.
The number of Indians applying for visas to study in Australia has fallen by almost half, heightening fears for the country's $17 billion international education industry, Sydney Morning Herald reported on Thursday.
The drop in numbers come after Indian students were set upon and viciously assaulted, causing an outcry in India. About 115,000 Indians have studied in Australia in the last 12 months.
The vicious attacks proved fatal for two students. While Nitin Garg was fatally stabbed in Melbourne Saturday, Ranjodh Singh's partially-charred body was found in New South Wales Dec 29.
Glenn Wither, the chief executive of Universities Australia, said a reduction in Indian students would be likely to have a greater impact on vocational colleges, where a greater proportion of Indians enrolled.
He said part of the problem was that Indians had started studying in Australia in large numbers only recently, so there were few alumni to counter bad press with stories of their own experiences.
The immigration department figures also show overall international student visa applications have dropped by 26 per cent.
The media report said that applications from Nepal plummeted 85 per cent, from 5,696 to 845, and those from Korea, Brazil and the US each fell by about 20 per cent.
Applications from China, however, increased slightly, by 0.2 per cent, and those from Vietnam rose 19 per cent.
Andrew Smith, chief executive of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training, said he was expecting a "significant" decline in enrolments this year from several countries, including India and China.
He said reputational damage, the strength of the dollar and a tightening of the visa application process had all contributed to the drop, which could threaten the viability of colleges and lead to job losses.