In response to a surge in fraudulent applications from individuals seeking to work after applying to more affordable educational institutions, several Australian universities have imposed bans or restrictions on students from certain Indian states. At least five universities have implemented these measures.
The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, two Australian newspapers, have reviewed emails indicating a “crackdown on applications from Indian students.” These publications have reported that Victoria University, Edith Cowan University, the University of Wollongong, Torrens University, and agents representing Southern Cross University have imposed a ban or restrictions on Indian students.
As per the report, the bans and restrictions mainly target applicants from eight Indian states, including Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat. The Herald stated that Edith Cowan University in Perth imposed a complete ban on applicants from Punjab and Haryana in February. Furthermore, in March, Victoria University tightened its restrictions on student applications from eight Indian states, which included Rajasthan, UP, and Gujarat.
Ironically, Victoria University imposed the restrictions only a few days after Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visited India to “celebrate Australia’s educational ties and announce a new agreement with Australian universities and colleges.” The Prime Minister had touted the new agreement as “the most extensive and ambitious arrangement India had ever made with any nation.”
A critical component of the agreement was the “recognition of qualifications between Australia and India,” which would facilitate university travel between the two nations.
As reported by the Herald, Alex Hanlon, Victoria University’s regional recruitment manager, informed education agents that the university would implement more stringent requirements in certain regions of India to “strengthen the profile of students from areas where we have seen heightened visa risks.”
As per a university spokesperson, the restrictions encompass a comprehensive evaluation of applicants’ study history to determine whether they are adequately qualified and prepared for international studies in Australia and can financially support themselves.
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The report notes that there has been a significant increase in applicants from South Asia to Australian universities, which is expected to surpass the previous record of admitting 75,000 Indian students in 2019.
Australia commenced a phased reopening in 2021 after closing its borders during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of Home Affairs, responsible for administering the country’s student visa program, stated, “we have observed an uptick in incomplete applications and fraudulent information and documentation being submitted in student visa applications.”
As per the Sydney Morning Herald, several applications have been deemed ineligible by universities for failing to satisfy Australian visa requirements that the applicants are “authentic temporary entrants” who are solely arriving for educational purposes. Consequently, the universities claim that tighter restrictions have been implemented for specific Indian states because they do not wish for the Australian Home Affairs to curtail their ability to expedite student visas due to the significant number of applicants seeking work rather than education.
As per the report, Australia’s Department of Home Affairs denied admission to an “unprecedented” 94% of Indian offshore applicants intending to pursue vocational studies in Australia. In contrast, the acceptance rate for applicants from the US, the UK, and France was less than 1%. “In 2006, when Home Affairs began publishing such records, 91% of Indian applicants were accepted,” the report notes.