Two More Australian Universities Ban Student Applications From Certain Indian States

The ban was reported by the Sydney Morning Herald two days before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese signed a migration deal to "promote the exchange of students, graduates, researchers and business people". 

New Delhi: Following government concerns about visa fraud, two more Australian institutions have banned enrolling students from certain Indian states reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

The latest restrictions on students from particular Indian states were reported by the newspaper on Monday, May 22, the same day Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Australia for a bilateral meeting. Modi and his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese signed a new migration deal on Wednesday to “promote the exchange of students, graduates, researchers and business people”.

According to the report, students from Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh will no longer be recruited by Federation University in Victoria and Western Sydney University in New South Wales.

The decision was made as rejection rates for Indian candidates at all Australian universities rose to their highest level in ten years. Additionally, one in four applications is currently being labelled as “fraudulent” or “non-genuine,” according to the Department of Home Affairs.

The Australian Department of Education has stated that it is aware of “unscrupulous behaviour” in the international education industry, such as education agents reportedly offering incentives to students to transfer from expensive higher education institutions to less expensive vocational education institutions. 

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, education agents are the main channel through which foreign students enrol in universities in the nation. For each student enrolled, universities and schools pay these agents commissions of thousands of dollars. 

In a federal parliamentary hearing last week, the Department of Home Affairs stated that Australian universities were now rejecting 20.1% of applications, up from 12.5% in 2019. From India, 24,3% of applications are turned down, the highest rejection percentage since 2012.

Phil Honeywood, the chief executive of the International School Association of Australia, said at the hearing that many parents from other nations badly want to send their children abroad but frequently end up using the assistance of school agents.

Following the removal of the 20-hour weekly cap on the amount of work that international students could undertake by the previous Scott Morrison government, a surge in applications from South Asia was observed, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

As a result, students with low-skill Australian work visas were reportedly encouraged to apply to less expensive educational schools but their true intent is to find work. The Albanese administration intends to establish a new work limit on July 1 that will restrict the amount of work to 24 hours per week.

Western Sydney University told agents that a large number of Indian students “who commenced study in 2022 intakes have not remained enrolled, resulting in a significantly high attrition rate”, adding that the highest attrition risk is from applications from Punjab, Haryana and Gujarat.

The ban would be in place for at least two months, the university said, adding that it would take additional measures “to address the issue of non-genuine students enrolling with the university”.

The move comes after four universities already stopped accepting applications of students from certain Indian states, among which were Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat. Two other universities had made the entry process for applicants from India stricter but did not impose a complete ban from any particular state.