06/08/2009 - 00:00

Indian student fallout to hit from 2010

06/08/2009 - 00:00


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EDUCATORS are preparing for a fall in Indian student numbers amid ongoing negative publicity surrounding recent events in the sector.

EDUCATORS are preparing for a fall in Indian student numbers amid ongoing negative publicity surrounding recent events in the sector.

The heightened threat to educators coincides with the release of strong annual results by local education provider Navitas, which is the first piece of positive news to come out of the sector in some time.

Navitas chief executive Rod Jones said there had been expressions of concern, rather than a pull-back from the Indian student market.

"A lot of people are concerned at what is going on," he said.

Mr Jones told WA Business News Navitas could even benefit from having Indian students choose UK schools, where the company also operates.

Mr Jones noted that Navitas' vocational training programs targeted domestic, rather than international, students.

Navitas, which makes most of its money through university programs and English courses, still generates the vast bulk of its profits from Australia despite having a presence overseas.

The company reported an increase in net profit to $49.2 million for the financial year, compared with $37.2 million in 2007-08.

Attacks on Indian students earlier this year spurred Indian groups to stand guard at railway stations in Melbourne's west and sparked a protest in Sydney. Widespread media coverage in India provoked criticism from the country's prime minister, Manmohan Singh.

A Four Corners report last week revealed how dodgy business practices were being used to rip off foreign students seeking qualifications in Australia, and how vocational training for foreign students had become an immigration scam.

Gary Martin, chair of industry body Perth Education City, said even though the focus on international student safety had been on the eastern states, Western Australian would be caught up in the bad publicity.

"There will almost certainly be a flow-on effect for Western Australia but I doubt that WA will be impacted in the same way as, say, Sydney or Melbourne," said Mr Martin, who is also deputy vice-chancellor at Murdoch University.

Professor Martin said the recent publicity had far-reaching consequences for educators, dismissing claims it would only affect the vocational education and training sectors.

"The strongest signs of impact of negative publicity will not be realised until the beginning of 2010," he said.

Recruitment body IDP Education Australia recently reported an 80 per cent fall in appointments by students at its Indian offices.



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