Abroad Education

Abroad Education

Australia works to hike foreign student numbers

PUBLISH DATE 21st November 2017

In 2009, at the height of the outrage following attacks on Indians in Melbourne and Sydney, a cartoon published in an Indian daily had a Victorian police officer in a Ku Klux Klan mask saying, “We are yet to ascertain the nature of the attack.”

Eight years later, Victorian Police hopes it has done well to shake off any memories to that image. They point to the presence of Ali Gurdag, Acting Senior Sergeant of Turkish origin at Spencer Street police station in Melbourne, to say how “police service, not force” is “reflective of the larger community in a city that has at least 250 different cultures and where one in 30 persons is an international student”. The police’s outreach is part of Australia’s efforts to undo the damage the attacks did to its multi-billion-dollar international student sector.

The 2009 attacks couldn’t have come at a worse time. That year, Australia had registered a new high – an international student enrollment of 6,31,935, a growth of 16.8% from the previous year. But the attacks, coupled with a strong Australian dollar meant that over the next few years, the country lost international students.

Over the last couple of years, however, numbers for international students have shown an uptick, riding on the back of government policies that focus on the quality of Australia’s higher education and with the country’s big universities encouraged to enter into collaborative research with universities abroad. In 2016, 7,12,884 international students enrolled in the country, 8.9% of them Indians.

Last year, Australia unveiled its first-ever international education strategy, aimed at increasing student recruitment. This April, the government commissioned a study, led by Peter Varghese, former High Commissioner to India and now Chancellor of University of Queensland, to formulate a new strategy for Australia’s trade with India, with higher education as one of the focus areas.


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