Indian student applications ‘restricted’ in Australian universities

Indian students banned and restricted by Australian universities after a crackdown on fraudulent applications.

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Following a crackdown by five Australian universities, applications from international students from certain Indian states have been restricted. This has come to light after an investigation by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald involving five Australian universities – Victoria University, Edith Cowan University, the University of Wollongong, Torrens University, and agents working for Southern Cross University.

This crackdown on students came after a surge was reported in applications from South Asia, and an increase in the number of fraudulent applications was reported by the Home Affairs Department.

Specifically, the states mentioned were Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat

The news comes at a time when Indian students are set to become Australia’s largest group of foreign students. According to the Department of Education of the Australian Government, the number of Indian students studying in Australia was 89,766 in the months of January-February, 2023 which shows a 27% growth as compared to 2022.

So, what does this mean for students who are currently putting in their applications and hoping to get into an Australian university?

Bijay Sapkota (Source: Linkedin)

International student advocate and NSW International Student for the Year 2016 Bijay Sapkota told Indian Link, “This means that students applying legitimately may face scrutiny and will need to provide more evidence to support their applications. Evidence that they have sufficient funds for themselves during their studies, that they have a genuine intention of studying in Australia, and that they do not intend to overstay their visas or work more hours than allowed. This is to ensure that only genuine students are admitted into Australian institutions.”

On the other hand, Karan Mehta, Chairperson of the Indian International Students Association Victoria said, “This development restricting Indian student applications is unfortunate, but it is true that something like this does happen. Yet it is unfair to those students who are trying to apply on fair terms. The statement was very racist, to be frank. It was specific to Indians. In today’s time, when both the countries, India and Australia are trying to build relations on multiple fronts specifying that only Indians are getting cancelled, or Indians are responsible for fraudulent activities, doesn’t look good. It’s a direct hit to the Indian community. I am pretty sure there are other countries where something like this would be happening.”

Bijay Sapkota agrees. “If more such crackdowns were to go on, more nationalities will come into light. Other south Asian countries are at equal risk too.”

But Sapkota also spoke of instances where students have been heavily misguided. “In some situations, the agents ask the students to take up courses that they might not be interested in but are good for the agent’s commission,” he said.

“There are also instances where students come into Australia and then take a transfer to private institutions because they are cheaper, which is a major area of concern for the crackdown. The universities might be looking at the retention rate of the students,” he added.

karan mehta
Indian Students’ Association of Victoria Chairperson, Karan Mehta. Source: supplied

The current situation impacts the students who are still in their application phase tremendously, but does it end there? Will Indian students who are already studying here face any repercussions of this?

Bijay Sapkota hopes that Indian international students who are here to study should not succumb to this treatment.

“It’s a very sad thing, that such things have occurred. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that all students need to be viewed through this prism. There are so many international students from India who are doing incredibly well in Australia and not just for themselves but the broader Australian and global community as well.”

Should laws be stricter for Indian students, or for Australian colleges?

“What I recommend is that there should be rules passed within Australia to have stronger student recruitment policies,” said Karan Mehta.

The current scenario does not directly impact the Australia-India relation. But something must be done to ensure that the bulk of Indian international students are treated fairly in Australia.

“I feel also that the governments who send their students abroad should make sure that they are treated fairly,” said Bijay Sapkota.

It also appears that the issue goes beyond Indian students alone. An inquiry is currently on by federal MPs into concerns about the activities of international education agents as well – specially their nondisclosure about fees paid to them by universities or colleges, reported The Sydney Morning Herald.

Coming back to the students themselves, both Sapkota and Mehta suggested that future students should be on top of everything when applying to foreign universities.

They should know their course in its entirety, all the intricacies involved, and how it aligns with their own careers. The students should not be afraid to apply, and just be honest while applying.

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