The Australian government is to release a report over the next few days, which will recommend a series of institutional changes in its higher education sector in the light of attacks on Indian students across the country.
Michael Harbison, Lord Mayor of the South Australian capital Adelaide, who was in Chennai at a business gathering on Tuesday, told The Hindu that the report was expected to include the enforcement of higher accreditation standards in private sector educational institutes, measures to improve the security of student funds deposited with these institutes, accommodation that takes account of cultural needs and employment prospects that ensure students are not tempted by black economy positions that are exploitative.
The report is the result of group work chaired by Chris Eccles, Chief Executive of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, South Australia.
“I am deeply saddened to hear that Indian students are afraid to visit Australia,” Mr. Harbison said, addressing the gathering.
The “unfortunate incidents” brought to light over the past year were, he said, “undoubtedly racist in nature,” but were understood as isolated in Australia.
He said that it was “a terrible and confronting thing” to realise that Indians did not see it that way and stressed that his federal government had a strategy under way.
“Australia needs engineers, software specialists and healthcare staff,” Mr. Harbison said, pointing out that South Australia has established a special immigration division, Immigration SA, to help those who wanted to take advantage of opportunities in his State.
“We are on the cusp of an enormous mining boom,” he said of the Roxby Downs uranium mine in South Australia.
“We want engineers… and Indian universities are turning out engineering students at a rate we could only dream of.”
Later in the day, Mr. Harbison signed a memorandum of understanding with the Rotary Club of Madras, which sponsors two scholarships a year for the children of Rotarians to study at Carnegie Mellon University, Adelaide.
Mr. Harbison, who hosts a reception every year for international students in Adelaide, said that he considered himself responsible for the well-being of students at universities in his State and pledged to do his best to ensure international students had a happy and productive stay in Australia.