Australian universities call for justice for overseas students, including Indians, caught up in the government's crackdown on dodgy colleges.
Indian students comprise the second largest group of international students in tertiary education in Australia. From 2004 to 2009 the number of Indians studying in Australia rose from 30,000 to 97,000 with 45,000 of them being in Melbourne alone.
Universities Australia chairman Peter Coaldrake has warned the federal government to focus on the changes to immigration regulations that threaten to damage the international student market in the country.
International students are already vulnerable because of the high Australian dollar and increasing competition.
According to The Australian, Professor Coaldrake, vice-chancellor of Queensland University of Technology, said that immigration needed to take a more "risk proportionate" approach.
"We agree with the broad policy settings, but the latest migration changes are almost certainly going to have unintended consequences and we need to digest those quickly and respond to them as promptly as we can," the paper quoted Professor Coaldrake, as saying.
"We have to take a risk-proportionate approach to different categories of students and recalibrate the visa approach to the type and level of course and to source countries," he added.
The year 2009 had seen racially motivated attacks against Indian students in Australia. Rallies were organised in Melbourne and Sydney, and intense coverage of the perceived hate crimes had taken place in India.
According to the paper, the vice-chancellor of Queensland University of Technology, Scott Sheppard said that while high incidences of fraud in Indian and other South Asian markets had justified a crackdown there, it would be fair to counter that by lowering assurance levels in China where compliance had improved.
Sheppard expressed his concern about the delay in releasing the new priority skills list, combined with the abrupt crackdown on some visa categories, which had created confusion and would take a year to clear.
"The changes have sent a lot of negative messages out about whether Australia is welcoming of international students," he said.
Meanwhile, Monash University vice-chancellor Ed Byrne has said that government needs to reassure markets that Australia still welcomed international students and offered pathways for them to stay.