In the backdrop of a spate of racial attacks against Indians here, the number of students from the country visiting Australia for study could dwindle by nearly 50 per cent by 2010, according to an international educational consultant.

“In our India offices we’re expecting our 2010 February intake to be down by about 50 per cent,” IDP Education chief executive Tony Pollock said, according to an ABC report.

IDP which works with 400 institutions across Australia and takes in 35,000 students released a survey today conducted on over 6,000 students from eight countries including 1,100 students from India.

Mr. Pollock felt that the fall in numbers might be entirely due to safety and security issues; global slowdown could also play a part in it. “We have the GFC [global financial crisis], which has obviously impacted upon families in India and that’s evident by the fact that the applications for other countries are way down, particularly the United States.”

The survey was to find out what foreign students thought about Australia in comparison to other English speaking destination, he said. “The somewhat surprising result and indeed promising result is that they believe Australia to be the safest destination of all the English-speaking destinations — and by quite a margin.”