Enrolment of Indian students in Australia is expected to slide by a whopping 21 per cent over safety worries in the aftermath of violent attacks on them and the country could lose around $70-million.

In its latest projection, Tourism Australia has said the recent spate of attacks on students will result in 4,000 fewer Indians coming to study next year.

“The downturn is expected in response to concerns that the Indian community have had about safety,” head of Tourism Australia’s forecasting committee Bernard Salt said.

“What we are saying is that based on consideration of visa applications, there is 20 per cent hit in the number of Indian students coming in 2010,” Mr. Salt said, adding that it was hard to say whether this drop could be a “knee-jerk, one-year reaction.”

Gautam Gupta, president of the Federation of Indian Students in Australia, however, said the slump would not be as severe as feared earlier after a spate of attacks on students of Indian origin till June this year.

“Our fears were that the slide could touch as high as 50 per cent. But it is going to be only 21 per cent,” he said.

Australia’s education industry has, in recent years, witnessed an unprecedented boom with the value touching as high as $15.4-billion a year and is listed as the country’s third biggest export earner.

Students from India make up for 19 per cent of those enrolling in Australian universities. Last year, as many as 1,17,000 enrolled.

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