At least three Australian Universities who according to some media reports had allegedly banned students from certain regions of India have said that there is no ban against Indian students at their institutions.
This ban was reported due to alleged visa fraud concerns from students enrolling at Australian institutions.
Earlier this year, a small number of Australian universities temporarily paused new applications from prospective students in some Indian states.
News reports had listed the names of seven Australian universities – Western Sydney University, Victoria University, Federation University Australia, Edith Cowan University, Torrens University, University of Wollongong, and agents of Southern Cross University.
The number of Indian students in Australia has been around 100,000 per year in the last few years (2023 – 99697, 2022 – 100302, 2021 – 99244). These figures peaked in 2019 and 2020 with the head count for Indian students studying on a student visa touching an all-time high of 115106 in 2019 and 114841 in 2020 according to Australia’s Department of Education. Indian students currently form the second largest group of students from any country in Australia.
The Australia Today reached out to all the seven named universities out of which six have responded so far to our queries.
Western Sydney University
We asked them specifically about reports of Western Sydney University not recruiting students from the Indian states of Punjab, Haryana, and Gujarat. Further, we enquired if this policy is still there, if it is being reviewed, or if it has been lifted completely?
In response to our questions, a Western Sydney University spokesperson said:
“Western Sydney University is actively recruiting from all regions across India.”
We asked Victoria University about them not recruiting students from several Indian states.
A spokesperson from Victoria University said:
“Victoria University does not prohibit students from India or any specific state in India. VU views India as a region that is diverse and offers skills, talent and potential that aligns with the university’s plan for internationalisation.”
“Students wanting to study in VU are required to meet academic, English and other requirements to determine if they are suitably qualified and prepared for international study in Australia.”
University of Wollongong
The University of Wollongong has deemed the media reports incorrect.
In correspondence with The Australia Today they have categorically said that with regard to the University of Wollongong, the claims in the Australian and Indian media reports were false and that UoW has not placed any bans or restrictions on students from India or on students from certain regions of India.
In a media release entitled “No University of Wollongong bans on applications from Indian students” issued in April this year, the university said:
“MEDIA REPORTS SUGGESTING UOW HAS PLACED RESTRICTIONS ON STUDENT APPLICATIONS FROM INDIA ARE INCORRECT”
“Contrary to reports in The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and elsewhere, the University of Wollongong (UOW) has not placed any bans or restrictions on applications from Indian students, nor on students from any specific Indian states or regions. Like all Australian universities, UOW has rigorous entry criteria for all students. However, UOW does not have any restrictions on student applications from India other than the standard entry criteria we apply to all international students and the requirements of the Australian Department of Home Affairs.”
The statement further reads:
“All Australian universities are required to guard against fraudulent applications. At the same time, UOW works hard to ensure that our admissions process is fair and just and accessible to all students. UOW monitors trends in enrolment fraud, regularly reviews processes, and works closely with the Department of Home Affairs to ensure international student applications are genuine. Our overall visa refusal rate over the past 12 months is low, with only a tiny amount relating to refusal based on fraud (the lowest of the possible Department of Home Affairs reporting bands).”
“UOW has a long history of engagement in India, with partnerships that stretch across higher education, government, industry and research organisations. We have research and education collaborations with close to 30 Indian universities, and we attract significant numbers of Indian students to both our Wollongong Campus and the University of Wollongong in Dubai. In 2023, Indian students make up UOW’s largest international cohort. More than 2,500 Indian students are enrolled at UOW in Australia, with business, engineering and information sciences the most popular degrees. Last year, UOW launched the Vice-Chancellor’s Leadership Scholarship-India, which provides recipients with generous financial assistance, leadership training, dedicated academic support, community networking, and global mobility opportunities. Recipients are selected based on their academic achievement and leadership potential. UOW is on track to become one of the first Australian universities with a teaching base in India, having signed a Letter of Intent with Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT City) in July 2022. Initially, our teaching program in Gujarat will focus on finance, business and STEM subjects.”
Federation University has confirmed that earlier in the year they had limited applications from certain regions in India but from 18 September 2023 that will change.
A Federation University Australia spokesperson told The Australia Today:
“Federation University Australia can confirm that it will be accepting and processing applications from all cities and states in India from the 18th of September, including:
- Jammu and Kashmir
- Uttarkhand / Uttaranchal
- Uttar Pradesh
Earlier in the year, the University took the difficult decision to limit applications from certain regions in India due to a significant increase in the proportion of visa applications being refused by the Department of Home Affairs. This decision was taken to avoid applicants receiving a visa refusal which could have significantly impacted their future study intention.”
Edith Cowan University
A statement released by Edith Cowan University’s Vice Chancellor Steve Chapman CBE in April this year in response to the reports mentioned that there is no ban on Indian students.
“Edith Cowan University (ECU) is a quality-driven institution with admissions processes and a learning environment that ensures all our students thrive and succeed with their studies and future careers.
It is of concern to me that potential students and their families have been unnecessarily worried by misinformation circulating about ECU’s student recruitment approach in India.
I want to confirm there is no ban on Indian students – who we continue to, and look forward to, welcoming to join our ECU community.”
The statement however mentioned that they had temporarily paused Undergraduate student recruitment from the regions of Punjab and Haryana for Semester 2, 2023.
“ECU is continually proactive in its strategies to protect the integrity of our application processes, most importantly for the benefit of the potential students wanting to join our University community.
I can confirm that in January 2023, ECU temporarily paused Undergraduate student recruitment for the regions of Punjab and Haryana for Semester 2, 2023.”
The statement further added that consequently, ECU hosted a comprehensive webinar for ECU Education Agents from these regions to provide a dedicated opportunity for the representative network to understand the relevant details and that this webinar was well received.
“This prudent step by ECU has allowed us to undertake a review and refinement of our Undergraduate admissions settings for 2024 to ensure we maintain the highest standards.
We have continued to accept applications from these regions for Postgraduate courses and continue to receive strong Undergraduate applications from these regions.
At Edith Cowan University we know our international students are an incredibly important and enriching part our University community, bringing vibrant cultural experiences and diversity.
Our dedicated international team at ECU is closely monitoring the situation as a priority and doing everything possible to address difficulties being faced by any of our potential students as a result of this disruption.”
We reached out to the University to confirm whether the temporary pause for UG recruitment from Punjab and Haryana has been lifted?
We asked them,
“While the statement does say that you are receiving strong UG applications from these regions it is not entirely clear from the statement if the pause has been lifted or not as yet.
Will be great if you can confirm one way or the other and if it hasn’t yet been lifted, is there a timeframe for when it might be”
The response from the University was,
“ECU has nothing to add to the statement at this stage.”
Southern Cross University
There were also reports about agents of Southern Cross University not recruiting students from certain Indian states.
On this Vice President Engagement Dean Gould told The Australia Today,
“All student applications to the University are assessed, as necessary, against academic and English language requirements.
We operate with careful consideration to the requirements of Government and the higher education regulator, TEQSA.
Where we are aware of specific issues in a region – such as a high level of visa refusals – we work closely with agents in the region to ensure we have the right processes in place to deal with those issues.”
We also reached out to Australia’s education Minister Jason Clare on this issue.
In an exclusive statement to The Australia Today, Minister Clare said,
“Australia continues to welcome a significant number of Indian students to study at our world-class education institutions, the second largest cohort of students from any country studying in Australia.”
“Universities manage their own admissions policies within the requirements of legislative frameworks for international education. Where there are integrity issues with applications, the Government expects providers to take action.
The Government is committed to ensuring all students, regardless of nationality, are treated fairly and appropriately at all times during their study experience with Australian institutions, including during the application process.
The Australia-India education relationship is strong and is being strengthened through a diverse range of new partnerships, joint programs and campuses.”
We are still awaiting a response from Torrens University.
The Australian Government recently announced a comprehensive package of measures aimed at fortifying the integrity of the international education system and ensuring the well-being of genuine international students.
These measures are designed to safeguard the quality and credibility of this sector, reinforcing Australia’s commitment to both economic growth and international cooperation.
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