Concerned over the safety of Indian students here, Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal has reviewed with Foreign Minister Stephen Smith the steps taken by the Australian government here to ensure their safety and security.

Mr. Sibal, who is in Australia on a visit, met Mr. Smith yesterday at Perth and held talks on the educational links between the two countries.

“We discussed the ongoing steps that Australian governments are taking to ensure that Indian students in Australia remain safe and return home with a first class education and a great Australian experience,” the Australian Foreign Minister said.

“We also looked to the future of the Australia-India education relationship, which presents enormous opportunities to deepen collaboration across all sectors from vocational education and training to higher education and postgraduate studies,” he added.

The visit assumes significance in the wake of over 100 incidents of assaults against Indian students being reported in Australia.

“As Australia’s gateway to the Indian Ocean region, Western Australians understand that our economic strength reflects our willingness and success in engaging with the fast-growing economies and major markets to our west. India is an essential part of that,” he said.

Mr. Smith said Mr. Sibal has been a strong advocate of the Australia-India Strategic Partnership, agreed by Prime Minister Rudd and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi in November 2009.

Under Mr. Sibal, Australia and India launched the Strategic Research Fund (AISRF) which commenced with an initial commitment of $20 million by Australia and India over 5 years in 2006, he said.

“The AISRF has been since its inception Australia’s largest bilateral fund for research with any country. The competitive grant scheme has been heavily oversubscribed,” he said.

Mr. Sibal will also meet Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education Julia Gillard and hold the annual Australia-India Ministerial Dialogue of Education Cooperation in Melbourne later this week.

He will also meet representatives of Australian universities and education providers, State government representatives, members of the Indian community and business leaders.

Mr. Sibal and Mr. Smith had met last month in New Delhi and also attended the Australia-India Friendship Hockey Match, part of the Hockey World Cup.