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Indian students among others detained in Aus

Around 300 overseas students, including Indians, are put into detention centres in Sydney and Melbourne in the past three years after found breaching Australia immigration laws.

world Updated: Aug 28, 2008 13:49 IST

Around 300 overseas students, including Indians, were put into detention centres in Sydney and Melbourne in the past three years after found breaching Australian immigration laws.

According to a report in 'The Australian', it was revealed that in the last three years 299 overseas students were put into the detention centre in Sydney or Melbourne of which most were deported.

University, TAFE and secondary school students from 24 countries were detained and majority of them hailed from India, China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Of the detainees, 207 were held for overstaying their visas, 30 for attendance breaches, 14 for failing their courses, seven for not starting their courses, four for withdrawing from their courses, one for a work breach and 36 for other reasons, the report said.

Senior psychology professor of University of Sydney Christopher Lennings said overseas students could be easily overwhelmed by conditions in Australia, leaving them vulnerable to breaches of migration law.

"People's English is not as good, they get overwhelmed, have financial problems or illness. They get depressed and fail their studies, and next thing they know they are on a roller coaster and have lost control of their lives," he said adding "The trauma period is within a few to 10 days, especially if they don't know how long they would be incarcerated for."

Students who have their visas cancelled -- often for working more than 20 hours a week, for attending less than 80 per cent of scheduled contact hours, for unsatisfactory academic results, for completing a course early, deferring study or transferring to another provider -- become unlawful non-citizens.

Once located, they are usually detained pending removal from Australia, granted a bridging visa or made to arrange their own departure. The report further said that a former Bangladeshi university student was detained for almost three years and one of the 27 Chinese nationals was detained for 371 days.

Universities Australia chief executive Glenn Withers said while illegal residency should be dealt with by deportation, these processes "should minimise the need for detention and ensure a proper allowance for associated refugee claims".

National Liaison Committee President for the country's 250,000 international students, Eric Pang, said it was "shocking to know that it's such a big export industry for Australia, where students are treated as cash cows, yet others are receiving such harsh treatment in detention ... If they overstay they should be deported."

Student detainee advocate Milchaela Rost said she was appalled by the figures and Australia was the only country in the world to detain some full-fee-paying international students.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans recently announced that mandatory detention for over stayers and unlawful non-citizens would only apply in certain circumstances, such as where a person presents a risk to the community, or where there is repeated non-compliance.