Indian Students Grow Wary of Australia Following Attacks

Andrew Harrison, Wall Street Journal, June 3, 2009

Random violence against Indian students is damaging the reputation of Australia’s growing tertiary-education industry.

More than 1,000 mostly Indian students protested the violence in a demonstration in the city Sunday and Monday. One recent attack in Melbourne left an Indian stabbing victim in a coma.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Monday {snip} noted there are 90,000 Indians studying in Australia and more than 200,000 Australians of Indian descent.

Education of foreign students has become big business in Australia, generating 15.5 billion Australian dollars (US$12.54 billion) in 2008, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard said last week. Foreigners now make up 25% of students, up from just under 10% in 1997.

The tertiary-education sector is now the nation’s third-largest export earner behind coal and iron ore. In Victoria state, education is the biggest export earner.

The number of Indian students has doubled in the past three years, with two-thirds studying at private colleges.

Violence against the foreign students has been escalating over the past four years, according to Gautam Gupta, spokesman for the Federation of Indian Students of Australia. In Victoria state, police said 1,447 people of Indian origin were victims of crimes such as robberies and assaults in the year ending June 30, 2008, an increase from 1,082 in the previous year.

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In India, Australia is being labeled a racist nation in media reports, a claim made a number of times in recent years around Asia.

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