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Victorian PM concerned over drop in enrolment

Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu has said he is keen to rebuild strong educational ties with India by assuring safer environment for them.



Melbourne: Expressing concern over the sharp
drop in Indian student enrolments in Australia, Victorian
Premier Ted Baillieu has said he is keen to rebuild strong
educational ties with India by assuring safer environment for
them.

"We certainly concerned because the industry is
significant for the Victorian economy and we have been
concerned on variety of fronts. Some time ago there was issue
of violence against International students and we sought to
have greater security around international students," Ted
Baillieu said.

"We were concerned when Commonwealth intervened and
changed visa arrangements. And those changes did aggravate the
problem and obviously Australian dollar also impacted," the
premier said.

The state`s cash rich International education
industry has been relying on high enrolments figures number
from India which have dropped considerably in the backdrop of
student violence issues, high Australian dollar value and
stricter visa rules.

Indian student enrolment in Australia has declined by
almost half following turmoil in its international education
sector, legislative changes and global financial crisis.

In 2008-09, 65,503 Indian passport holders were granted
Australian student visas across all education sectors. But in
2009-10, the number fell to just 29,721. Overall, 50,540 fewer
international students were granted visas to study in
Australia in 2009-10 compared with 2008-09.

He said that it was important to address the issue of
visa arrangements for those students who have been impacted by
the visa change.

"That concern has not been addressed and we think it
is important that they are addressed," he added.

"We have more than 200,000 Indian background people in
Victoria and it makes no sense to grow this relationship," the
Premier said adding that the educational ties were vital
component of the two sides’ ties.

"Education will maintain a very substantial component
of the relationship of Victoria and India as it has
traditionally," Baillieu said.

He said he was committed towards safety issues of any
international student studying in the state.

To further maintain safe environment for overseas
students, Baillieu said, "We will roll out additional police,
additional protective safety officers near the railway
stations."

"The fact is a lot of students who are training at a
smaller training institutes have been working at night and
that means they have been travelling at night. We want to
create a cultural safety community on our public transport,"
he said.

"There is no doubt if we go back four five years back
there were students who were apprehensive about using public
transport," he said.

"It’s our intention to provide safety for those students
coming to Australia," he said.

The premier, who is popular politician among Indian
community in the state, is also keen to develop and strengthen
other trade areas with India and recently announced a new
trade office to be opened in Mumbai next year.

A high level business delegation is set to visit
India early next year to explore the possibilities of
improving two way trades, he said.

State government also looking at appointing a Bollywood
brand ambassador for Victoria in near future to tap Bollywood
links.

"We have been very keen to develop Bollywood links and
the Department of Industry and Innovation is responsible for
that strategy. We are keen that we can get Bollywood festival
here and we will be looking at also appointing a Bollywood
brand ambassador for Victoria," he said.

PTI

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