Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Has the Recent Violence Against Indian Students in Australia had an Effect on Indian American Students’ Decision to Study Abroad in Australia?

There has been a flurry of news over the past few months about several incidence of violence against Indian students studying in Australia and the effect this has on higher education and the economy in Australia. Specifically, over 70 attacks on Indian students have occurred in Australia over the past year or so and this has sparked outrage in India as well as a swift “zero tolerance” response in Australia. Last week a nine-member delegation from Australia began a nine-day itinerary of India in an effort to mend relations and improve the image of Australia and its higher education system. I have copied and pasted the following from the July 7th Wall Street Journal article “Australians Travel to India to Talk About Student Safety” to highlight the impact these attacks can have on Australia:

“The issue is important for Australia's economy because the education of foreign students has become big business, generating 15.5 billion Australian dollars (US$12.54 billion) in 2008, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard said in May.

Foreigners now make up 25% of students, up from just under 10% in 1997. Indian students represent about 18% of the 542,000 foreigners studying in Australia, second only to those from China, according to data from the Australian Council for Private Education and Training. The higher-education sector is now Australia's third-largest export earner behind coal and iron ore.

In the state of Victoria, education is the biggest export earner and many of the attacks have occurred in Melbourne, Victoria's capital.”

Those of you who have not been following these developments in Australia may want to do a simple internet search or link to a few articles I have highlighted below:

Australians Travel to India to Talk About Student Safety” from the July 7th The Wall Street Journal

Punjab government seeks data of students studying in Australia” from June 10th The Times of India

Indian Students Claim Epidemic of Racist Violence in Australia” from June 4th

Indian students describe Sydney attacks” from June 3rd issue of ABC News

Indian students unsure about studying in Australia” from May 29th ABC Radio Australia

It should be noted that Australia is not the only country where Indian students as well as others have been attacked or have experienced racism.

In answer to the question “has the recent violence against Indian students in Australia had an effect on Indian American students’ decision to study abroad in Australia?”…I don’t have an answer and I think it would be a bit challenging (but not impossible) to measure. Some immediate thoughts are that most U.S. students are not aware these attacks on Indian students even occurred. Indian American students may be more informed on the situation in India than their peers as it has received significant media attention in India and I’m guessing in Indian media outlets (as well as in the WSJ) here in the United States. As many IHEC Blog readers know, I have a strong research interest in diversifying the U.S. study abroad student profile and I’ve
written about and compiled an annotated bibliography on heritage seeking in a study abroad context. What I don’t know and I need to investigate is “to what level do college and university level students in the U.S. keep up to date on news in countries of their heritage?” I will certainly try to seek answers to this question but if anyone has any leads for me please leave a comment.

Anyway…this question has been floating around in my head the last month or so as I’ve been reading about this situation and I thought I post to IHEC Blog about it.


  1. I think the sort of discrimination and bad experience for foreign students doesn't just occur with Indians, it also occur with other foreign people. Lets just hope that the pressure that this can bring doesn't amount to another shooting. I always wonder, why don't people grow up specially in a place where they are trying to.