A SIGNIFICANT drop in enrolment of Indian students at the University of Southern Queensland may be partly caused by fears of racist attacks in Australia.
USQ Vice Chancellor Professor Bill Lovegrove said negative media reports about racist attacks on Indian students in Sydney and Melbourne could be a factor in the decline.
He said this was despite positive reports from Indian students he had spoken to on campus in Toowoomba.
“It is a bit early to state a definite outcome on international enrolments, but we are down by 10 to 15 per cent and any decline is a concern.
“Violence towards Indian students in Australia may be playing a role, but there are other factors.
“The Australian dollar has gone up and it’s also so much more difficult for students to get a visa.”
Prof. Lovegrove said changes to student visa criteria meant international students needed to show they had $18,000 in a bank account, where in previous years they needed only $12,000.
The university has a dedicated arrivals team to assist international students to settle in as they enter the country.
USQ Indian students Praneeth Juwadi and Sudha Reddy Soma both said their experiences in Australia and Toowoomba had been positive.
Mr Juwadi said the decision to study at USQ was an easy one after he received positive feedback from friends who had studied at the Toowoomba campus.
“I had a few friends who were studying here and all recommended the university to me and I am glad that I followed their advice,” he said.
“All of the academics are really friendly and helpful and so are the students.
“It has made studying here very enjoyable.”
Ms Reddy was thrilled to find Toowoomba and USQ to be culturally diverse and accepting of international students.
“The university has excellent facilities and very supportive faculties, but it is the multicultural environment which has made me feel really comfortable.”
Despite the drop in enrolments for Indian students, there has been a 27 per cent increase in domestic enrolments at USQ, well above the State average of 13 per cent.