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Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Volume 9, Issue 1; January 13, 2010

Special Feature

Indian Students in Australia. Why It’s Gone Wrong.

The Playing Field

Higher-Edge opens Recruitment Office in America

1) SPECIAL FEATURE – Indian Students in Australia. Why It’s Gone Wrong.

The global movement of students normally leads to more links, understanding and tolerance between nations. So how is it then that with some 100,000 Indians studying in Australia that tension sparked in 2009 over several assaults leading to allegations of racism? Indeed, 2010 has started with an even hotter war of words between the two nations.

After the January 2nd killing of a 21 year old Indian student in Melbourne, the Indian government issued a travel warning to its own citizens for travel to Australia. Criticized by Australia as excessive reaction, just this past weekend another Indian in Melbourne was brutally attacked when he was pulled from his car and set ablaze with lighter fluid. Anger has been swelling in India, and reports indicate a coming 50% drop in applications by Indians to Australian institutions.

Travel advisories which caution and occasionally prohibit travel, are usually reserved for notoriously dangerous places, or nations in the midst of violent political upheaval. Which is why India’s official caution stunned Australians.  By virtually all accounts, Australia is among the safest nations in the world, and rarely would merit such consideration and caution (India’s proclamation, is probably the first of its kind for Australia).

Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister shot back that India is being unfair. “In big cities around the world we do see acts of violence from time to time; that happens in Melbourne, it happens in Mumbai, it happens in New York, it happens in London,” Julia Gillard was quoted as saying by the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) News.

Australia’s acting foreign minister Simon Crean said there was no evidence to suggest that recent attacks are racially motivated and asked New Delhi not to whip up “hysteria” over such incidents.

So what’s the story behind the headlines ?
The headlines themselves are much more common and sensational in India, than what one finds in Australia. It’s not simply a case of India being and feeling the injured party. The Indian media loves to exaggerate and whip up stories to compete in one of the world’s biggest and richest media markets. Pictures of Indians beaten on Australian subways play thousands of times on the hundreds of Indian television stations. 

Last week a Delhi newspaper printed a cartoon depicting Australian police as members of the racist Ku Klux Klan. Hype is the norm for Indian media, and context is rare, such as a comparison of the violence in Indian cities juxtaposed to Australia, or the fact that Indian universities have significantly more physical harassment than the calmer campuses in Australia.

Yes, it’s fair to say that Australia has its societal elements not fond of multi-racial and cultural integration. Perhaps these elements are less on the fringe than in Canada or the United States. Those nations have longer histories of South Asians living on their soil, but still it was only a few decades ago that the term “Paki” was a typical insult in those countries.

But the biggest factor here, is something few want to talk about. The fact is, Australia’s student recruitment machinery attracts tens of thousands of new Indian students a year. Hundreds of Aussie institutions aggressively promote to almost anyone who can pay, and the standard of instruction and facilities at many schools, colleges and universities is poor. Australian institutions do it plainly and simply – for the money.

The biggest and most interested market the Aussies target in India is middle to lower income people, who want badly to get out of India for better current economic opportunities, or for a future which abandons living in their homeland. Few of these students are targeting quality degree programs at Australia’s elite universities, but the hundreds of diploma colleges teaching culinary arts, cosmetics, hospitality, etc.  Many Indians see their student visa as simply a pathway to a job in Australian cities as cooks, cleaners, taxi drivers, etc.

This group is also usually older, less educated in India, and less sophisticated about western urbanization. Integration for them is a challenge. Unlike a top high school graduate who quietly goes about his/her studies, this group is not particularly interested in being in class. In a time of great financial anxiety and unemployment, Indian students taking menial jobs and not in school, are targets.

Fact is, for all the hysteria and upset, millions of Indians would gladly take an Australian visa if handed to them.  A huge industry of unscrupulous agents in India are there to capitalize, and the shopping of their students to Australian institutions (some of whom are just as unscrupulous) is welcomed and encouraged. The agents make hundreds of thousands of dollars, the institutions make millions, and the “student” gets what they want – out of India, and into Australia. It’s greed and opportunism, and has little to do with an actual education. It’s a recipe for what we see on the streets of Melbourne today, and echoed back in the loudest manner in India. It’s now at a crisis point.  It’s time for real education and study – by sociologists and criminologists, Australian and Indian alike.

Source: “Acts of violence occur in big cities: Oz deputy PM”, The Times of India, January 6, 2010

2) THE PLAYING FIELD – Higher-Edge opens Recruitment Office in America

More than a dozen years in the business, 4,500 international students recruited, engagements with governments for market intelligence, and a global reputation for integrity – Higher-Edge takes its first official foray onto American soil, with the opening of its first US office in Fort Collins, Colorado.
“We have always seen a great interest in US universities,” says Higher-Edge CIO Dani Zaretsky, commenting from the company’s Toronto office. “The challenge for American universities is only growing. In a world of intense global competition, if you do not have presence in the marketplace, you are at a decided disadvantage.”
The initial focus is on graduate programs, with interested US universities being able to capitalize on Higher-Edge’s network of its own offices in a dozen countries with the local expertise and experience of more than a decade of responsible and results-oriented recruiting.
For more information, contact:

Peter Grove 

Country Director USA

Tel: (970) 214-3770 

Email: usa@higher-edge.com

Web: www.higher-edge.com/usa.php

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