A Steep Decline in International Student Enrollment in Australia

Melbourne University (Photo by Geoff Penaluna/Flickr)

Against the backdrop of a slew of attacks on Indian university students in Australia, the international students' enrollment in major higher education establishments has been dented across the country.

Melbourne University's vice chancellor Glyn Davis has said that the fall in applications from countries like India are predicting at around 80 percent.

Over 100 incidents of attacks on Indian students, including racial, have come to light since May of last year in Australia. Nitin Garg, a 21-year-old student, was stabbed to death, the first victim of such assaults.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard attributed low enrollment rates to a variety of factors, including a high Australian dollar and some immigration changes. Really? Although Australia has never been the first destination of choice for Indian students, but actual perceived violent attacks have not helped the cause. Undoubtedly, the climate in India is deeply critical of the way Australians have handled the situation, and there's no doubt it will affect people's willingness to go for tertiary education there.

Why did these murders take place? Unlike the Indian media, which seemed to be breaking news about yet another Indian assaulted almost daily, the discourse in the Australian media on the spate of attacks seems superficial. Tim Colebatch, an editor at Melbourne Age, writes in an article entitled "More Murders in India than Australia" that such incidents happen "because human beings are imperfect creatures. They can be selfish, they can be hateful, they can enjoy hurting, even killing other humans. It happens here, it happens in India, it happens everywhere."

Australia, a nation where people from 140 countries live side-by-side, is contradicting its image of being a melting pot. What would it take for Australia to revamp their image and promote their country as a desirable country to study in? Share your thoughts below: