Education Body Advised Measures on Indian Students, Govt Ignored: Report

A top body representing Australian universities has blamed both state and federal governments for ignoring warnings issued by it on problems overseas students face, including Indians, reported PTI.

Universities Australia, representing as many as 39 universities, said that it had alerted governments regarding problems of student-safety, poor-quality colleges, lack of concessions on public transport and immigration matters etc two years ago, report said.

“It (Universities Australia) passed on to Australian authorities warnings from officials in China and India relating to student safety. It also conveyed to governments student disenchantment resulting from a perception they were being treated like cash cows,” reported ‘The Age’.

The daily said that offices of Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Immigration Minister Chris Evans and Premier John Brumby failed to confirm whether the body alerted them two years ago.

Glenn Withers, Chief Executive, Universities Australia, however, said that he was disappointed because neither state nor federal governments treated the problems as a priority when they were told about them two years ago but acted with urgency only when violent attacks on Indian students attracted intense media attention, said report.

“We were disappointed that earlier warnings took the unfortunate development of street assaults to lead to the reforms that should have been in place already. We saw this two years ago as an issue, tried to transmit it to government and were meeting resistance,” he was quoted as saying.

He also said that Universities Australia expressed a desire to work with the Coalition of Australian Governments to tackle problems in the vocational training sector that were likely to adversely affect the higher education sector but was not taken seriously.

“We were told basically, ‘This is not a matter for you, you are a concern of the Commonwealth and have no place at our table’,” he said.

“We were warning: ‘Look it’s a reputational issue, it’s a brand Australia issue, please let us work with you’. The states weren’t interested in listening. I think they thought they could just ride this industry to their benefit without worrying about their role in any serious way.”

According to him, Universities Australia had even raised concerns over the link between international education and immigration with the Federal Government.

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