India for transport concessions to students
Melbourne: To improve the safety of international students studying in Australia, India is lobbying with the Victorian and NSW governments to provide transport concessions to them in the aftermath of a series of street attacks.
"We are taking up the matter of transport concession with state government at the highest and all required levels, S K Behera, Consulate General of India, Melbourne said.
The demand has been put forward before Victorian and New South Wales governments from time to time after the series of street attacks against were reported in 2009.
Many university bodies like Universities Australia (UA), Australian Federation of International Students (AFIS) and National Union of Students (NUS) have pinpointed that the key to improve and enhance International student safety was by offering travel concessions to them while they move between campuses, workplaces and accommodation.
"Universities Australia strongly believes that travel concessions for full-time students should be extended to international undergraduates and to both domestic and international postgraduate students on a nationally consistent basis," the UA report had pointed out in its 10 point action plan to improve international education sector.
NSW and Victoria are the only states in Australia which do not offer transport concessions to international students even though the official figures show that they are the two states that host the highest number of international student enrolments as compared to other parts of the country.
Commenting on the current situation of Indian students in Australia, Behera said that the mood among Indian diaspora especially overseas students was upbeat and elated.
"There is no negative feeling now among Indian students and so much so those who were victims of such reported attacks today do not want to go back to India. They want to have a new life here," Behera said.
He applauded the role of Victorian government for taking stringent steps to improve the safety of Indian students.
"The government has strengthened police force in and around the train stations and campuses to check on such incidents," he added.
However, he urged there was a need to relax visa norms for those students who wanted to pursue vocational courses here.
Behera, who took over as Consulate General of India in 2011, said Victoria was doing a lot as a state alone to improve its relations with India.
Steps like City Council of Melbourne collaborating with Delhi government to strengthen city ties in regards to arts and culture, announcing over AUD 500,000 for organising Bollywood festival in Victoria, are few to name, he added.
Apart from that Victorian government representatives are also going to India and mobilising students to come here, he commented.