Australian education authorities fear a steep decline in the enrolment of Indian students in the coming years.
The bad press about overseas student program, unscrupulous agents, violence, predatorial campuses, will doubtless dampen demand for vocational courses acting as immigration conduits. But beyond that, the entire education sector might take a big hit, some commentators say.
AdvertisementThe ABC Television's Four Corners program reported on Monday that some private education operators have been exploiting Indian students.
Two private education institutions in Sydney and Melbourne have already closed their doors in the last two weeks, leaving some students stranded.
It is all having a snowballing effect. Melbourne University vice-chancellor Glyn Davis revealed, "The application figures from India are beginning to come in, and the early indications across the sector are a very dramatic fall in the number of applications from India, that will make a difference.
"I'm anticipating quite a sharp fall in the number of Indian students who elect to come to Australia."
He went on to note, "This is a great loss to Australia on every ground. Many of them do choose to stay and contribute to our nation so to lose that cohort is really distressing, but to lose it because of such unscrupulous behaviour as is being reported would be particularly tragic."
Many Australian universities are in financial distress even otherwise. The predicament facing them was highlighted by Melbourne University's decision to cut $30m from its wage budget.
Drop in enrolment could complicate the situation further. In order to stay afloat, they might be tempted to lure more overseas students by lowering their standards. But if they indeed do so, Australia's reputation could suffer further.
The debacle could yet turn into a disaster, warned Luke Slattery, writing in The Australian.