Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Victorian PM concerned over drop in enrolment

Melbourne: Expressing concern over the sharp drop in Indian student enrolments in Australia, Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu has said he is keen to rebuild strong educational ties with India by assuring safer environment for them. 

"We certainly concerned because the industry is significant for the Victorian economy and we have been concerned on variety of fronts. Some time ago there was issue of violence against International students and we sought to have greater security around international students," Ted Baillieu said. 

"We were concerned when Commonwealth intervened and changed visa arrangements. And those changes did aggravate the problem and obviously Australian dollar also impacted," the premier said. 


The state's cash rich International education industry has been relying on high enrolments figures number from India which have dropped considerably in the backdrop of student violence issues, high Australian dollar value and stricter visa rules. 

Indian student enrolment in Australia has declined by almost half following turmoil in its international education sector, legislative changes and global financial crisis. 

In 2008-09, 65,503 Indian passport holders were granted Australian student visas across all education sectors. But in 2009-10, the number fell to just 29,721. Overall, 50,540 fewer international students were granted visas to study in Australia in 2009-10 compared with 2008-09. 

He said that it was important to address the issue of visa arrangements for those students who have been impacted by the visa change. 

"That concern has not been addressed and we think it is important that they are addressed," he added. 

"We have more than 200,000 Indian background people in Victoria and it makes no sense to grow this relationship," the Premier said adding that the educational ties were vital component of the two sides’ ties. 

"Education will maintain a very substantial component of the relationship of Victoria and India as it has traditionally," Baillieu said. 

He said he was committed towards safety issues of any international student studying in the state. 

To further maintain safe environment for overseas students, Baillieu said, "We will roll out additional police, additional protective safety officers near the railway stations." 

"The fact is a lot of students who are training at a smaller training institutes have been working at night and that means they have been travelling at night. We want to create a cultural safety community on our public transport," he said. 

"There is no doubt if we go back four five years back there were students who were apprehensive about using public transport," he said. 

"It’s our intention to provide safety for those students coming to Australia," he said. 

The premier, who is popular politician among Indian community in the state, is also keen to develop and strengthen other trade areas with India and recently announced a new trade office to be opened in Mumbai next year. 

A high level business delegation is set to visit India early next year to explore the possibilities of improving two way trades, he said. 

State government also looking at appointing a Bollywood brand ambassador for Victoria in near future to tap Bollywood links. 

"We have been very keen to develop Bollywood links and the Department of Industry and Innovation is responsible for that strategy. We are keen that we can get Bollywood festival here and we will be looking at also appointing a Bollywood brand ambassador for Victoria," he said. 

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