Two Australian universities, Federation University in Victoria and Western Sydney University in New South Wales, have recently announced bans on students from certain Indian states, citing concerns regarding a rise in fraudulent visa applications. The Department of Home Affairs in Australia has deemed one in four applications as “fraudulent” or “non-genuine.” The universities have instructed education agents to disregard applications from states such as Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Federation University stated that it has observed a significant increase in the proportion of visa applications being refused from some Indian regions, and it is clear that there is a trend emerging. Meanwhile, Western Sydney University mentioned that the regions within India that had been identified as presenting the highest attrition risk are Punjab, Haryana, and Gujarat, and due to the urgency of this matter, the university has decided to pause recruitment from these regions in India, effective immediately.
Several renowned educational institutions in Australia have tightened their scrutiny regarding Indian students’ applications due to concerns surrounding a considerable number of applicants who appear to have ulterior motives centered around employment prospects in Australia instead of pursuing their intended studies. Emails obtained from Victoria University, Edith Cowan University, the University of Wollongong, Torrens University, as well as agents affiliated with Southern Cross University, suggest that there has been a noticeable tightening of scrutiny on these Indian students’ applications.
In February, Edith Cowan University in Perth implemented a comprehensive prohibition on accepting applicants from the Indian states of Punjab and Haryana. Subsequently, in March, Victoria University further tightened its restrictions on student applications, extending to eight Indian states, including Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Gujarat.
Experts state that changing visa regulations and higher scrutiny on visa applications have made it more challenging for Indian students to study in Australia and, as a result, the number of Indian students has declined. According to the Australian government, the number of student visa applications from India fell from around 60,000 in financial year 2018-19 to around 42,000 in 2020. Moreover, Australia’s dependency on the Indian student market has also declined in recent years due to a rise in the number of Chinese students studying in Australia.
The Australian government’s tightened visa regulations follow the country’s concerns over the potential of foreign interference. Australian politicians have been uneasy about China’s influence over the student body in the country. Chinese students comprise the largest overseas student cohort in Australia, with more than 165,000 Chinese students enrolled in Australian schools and universities in 2019.
Australian universities are taking steps to tighten scrutiny on Indian students’ visa applications, given concerns surrounding fraudulent applications, employment prospects within the country, and a decrease in the number of Indian students studying in Australia due to changing visa regulations. The Australian government has been uneasy about Chinese influence on the student body in the country, making it more challenging for Indian students to study in the country also.