Indian states blacklisted as Australian visa rejections soar

Australian institutions suspend recruitment from India’s north, just as politicians and vice-chancellors launch charm offensive

三月 13, 2023
Students taking a photo during a press preview of the 30th International Surajkund Art Crafts Mela at Surajkund to illustrate Indian states blacklisted as Australian visa rejections soar
Source: Getty

Australian universities are banning new students from some northern Indian states, just as vice-chancellors join a political charm offensive to boost educational ties with the region.

A handful of Australian universities, along with some vocational and pathway colleges, are instructing their agents not to process applications from the states of Haryana and Punjab.

Some are also targeting Gujarat, where two Australian universities have announced plans to establish branch campuses. One vocational college is not accepting applications from anywhere in northern India.

Times Higher Education understands that offers of enrolment to students from the targeted areas have been revoked, and at least one institution is filtering out Indian newlyweds.

These practices have emerged amid a slew of high-level Australian visits to northern India to celebrate research and educational ties and a new bilateral qualifications recognition agreement.

Prime minister Anthony Albanese arrived to laud the educational relationship, after education minister Jason Clare had led a delegation of more than 20 vice-chancellors and other education chiefs.

Meanwhile, record student visa applications from the subcontinent – likely fuelled by Australia’s generous work rights rules – have been met with a surge in rejections from immigration authorities.

Phil Honeywood, chief executive of the International Education Association of Australia, said officials from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) had warned international education operators months ago about high volumes of “low-quality applications” from four states in northern India, including Haryana and Punjab.

While Australian universities are keen to attract students from the world’s biggest democracy, they must choose carefully. Several institutions have suffered severe reputational damage after relaxing admissions standards from India, with at least three incurring regulatory repercussions.

But the Association of Australian Education Representatives in India (AAERI) said it was “grossly unfair and discriminatory” for educational providers to protect themselves by “stereotyping” people from particular regions.

In a letter to Mr Clare, AAERI president Ravi Lochan Singh noted that UK prime minister Rishi Sunak and World Bank president nominee Ajay Banga both had Punjabi descent.

“Had they applied to some of the Australian universities, their application may not even be considered,” Mr Lochan Singh wrote. “AAERI understands that there might have been higher instances of student visa refusals from certain regions in India but that should not bar genuine students from being considered.”

Some universities indicated that they were shunning particular regions to avoid raising the expectations of students with low prospects of obtaining visas.

Torrens University said it was considering only “very strong” applications from Gujarat, Haryana and Punjab and was not considering direct applications from these states.

“We are still awaiting further information from the government about why visa refusals from these states were so disproportionally high,” a spokesman explained. “If students apply from these regions and their visas are refused, any future visa applications could be jeopardised.”

Asked for confirmation that its metropolitan campuses had stopped accepting applicants from Haryana and Punjab, Southern Cross University said: “We continue to adjust our settings in response to a range of factors in market.”

Edith Cowan University has temporarily suspended all undergraduate recruitment from Haryana and Punjab and intensified its scrutiny of applications from elsewhere in India. “We want to take the necessary precautions to protect the interests of genuine students,” it told agents.

THE has been told that DHA is not screening out student visa applications from Gujarat, Haryana or Punjab.



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Reader's comments (1)

Australia is free to take whatever deems fit to protect the interests of genuine students. They are a nice country and nice people when it comes to immigration,cricket,such matters. They offered to process my permanent residency in Australia within 2 yrs of working in Australia in 2000 after i got my work permit to work in Australia in 2000. Unfortunately, American company lured me to USA in 2000 by offering a somewhat bigger package, promise to process greencard within 5 yrs. But even after going to USA and working there for 8+ yrs and buying half a million dollars property in USA and holding it for 5 yrs they did not issue greencard. Compare that to Australia where some of my friends got Australian PR within 2 yrs and went onto nice homes in Australia within 5 yrs. Australians are more straightforward, less politics and less drama. Whoever gets Australia visa are more likely to be successful in Australia than some other countries