As he prepared to leave for New Delhi to reassure India that his country was safe for its students, Victorian Premier John Brumby today announced a USD 14 million boost to secure the long-term future of the State’s international education industry.

Launching the project ‘Thinking Global’ with a ‘Ganesh puja’, Mr. Brumby said the quality of international education would include audit of high risk providers and would also include extension of current rapid audit to cover an extra 24 providers in next four months time.

Mr. Brumby, who will arrive in India tomorrow, will meet with officials, students, business leaders and the Indian media “to ensure the message is heard loud and clear that Victoria is a welcoming, multicultural place.”

Mr. Brumby said his trip was of utmost importance in view of attacks against Indian students here. He said his trip signified that the relationship between the two sides were strong and positive and that Australia was keen to further boost the ties.

Of the USD 14 million, the government will spend USD 1.4 million on maintaining the quality of its international education apart from USD 0.9 million on a buddy programme to support overseas students living in Victoria.

The government will also spend one million on better support and information for international students that include website re-development, providing information kits to create awareness, information supplements and online resources. “This action plan will play a key role in driving the growth in the number of students travelling here to make the most of Victoria’s world-leading research infrastructure,” Mr. Brumby said.

“We’re also committing to facilitating our education providers to go offshore and deliver courses overseas such as Box Hill TAFE which is delivering training in China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Fiji and the Middle East,” he said.

Skills and Workplace Participation Minister Jacinta Allan said the government was determined to continually improve the services offered to international students.

Indian Consul General in Melbourne Anita Nayar said the report compiled by the Victorian government did miss out on some issues like accommodation and travel concessions for international students.

Gautam Gupta of FISA said that the plan was nothing but an extension of what was already in place.

“Brumby did not roll out anything new. There is no mention of how to curb the attacks that have happened on Indian students. Nothing is being done by the government in that respect,” Mr. Gupta told PTI.