Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 27 (IANS) A spate of attacks, tough visa norms and denial of permanent residency have caused around 30,000 Indian students, mostly based in Melbourne, to leave Australia in the past year, claims the Federation of Indian Students in Australia (FISA).
The figure is quoted in the latest issue of Indian Student, published from Melbourne, a copy of which is available with IANS. The magazine in its editorial says it appears Australia is no more a favourite destination for Indian students with this huge exodus in a year's time.
The magazine quoting Gautam Gupta, spokesperson of FISA, said race attacks is one of the major reasons behind the exodus.
'Other significant factors include that there are no jobs and students can't survive without that. Denying permanent residency to many Indians despite fulfilment of conditions has also been a reason,' says Gupta.
There have been a spate of attacks on Indian students in Australia since last year.
Thiruvallam Bhasi, editor of the magazine who is currently on vacation in Kerala, told IANS that another factor which has become a deterrent for the students is a stronger Australia dollar.
'Even though strengthening of the Australian dollar is welcome for Indians who live there permanently, for students coming from India it has become very expensive,' said Bhasi who launched the magazine four years ago.
'Two years ago, one Australian dollar fetched Rs.30 and yesterday it was around Rs.44. The average fee for a two-year study in Australia currently stands at Aus$36,000 and just look at the difference in the past two years that the Indian student has to bear.'
This new development comes at a time when the latest UN Development Programme report ranks the quality of life in Australia as the second best in the world after Norway.
'The latest figures point out that the education industry in Australia fetches the country close to Aus$18 billion annually and this industry is either the second or the third biggest earner.
'With the Australian dollar strengthening like never before, the cost of education today in the US, the UK or Canada is the same as in Australia and with the denial of permanent residency, the education industry there could suffer heavily,' added Bhasi.
K. Immanual, an engineer by profession and a Kerala native who has settled down in Adelaide for the past 15 years, said: 'The one visible thing these days is the number of Indians arriving in south Australia has come down significantly.'
Immanual too is on vacation here.
Subhin Cherian who has been in Melbourne for the past four years has completed an MBA and a course in graphic design and is waiting to get permanent residency.
Cherian who is holidaying here told IANS that today the three professions that can help get a permanent residency are engineers, doctors and accountants.
'It is true many have left and some are getting ready to leave. In the four years that I have been here, I have spent Rs.2 million by way of fees and I thank my parents for that. Right now I do part-time jobs and am eager to land a permanent job,' said Cherian.
(Sanu George can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)