Manpreet Vohra, the Indian High Commissioner to Australia, spoke with relevant authorities and stakeholders to explore the possibility and timeline of the return of international students currently stranded in India.
The Indian High Commissioner to Australia Manpreet Vohra recently held talks with Deakin University’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Iain Martin about the return of international students stranded in India and the resumption of their on-campus education.
Last month, New South Wales and South Australia had announced plans to bring back international students in a phased manner. Pressure has since been growing on other states, including Victoria, to follow suit.
- Indian High Commissioner speaks with Deakin University over return of Indian students
- International students stranded in India welcome high commission’s initiative
- Federal government data reveals over 110,000 international students are currently studying remotely
A spokesperson at the Indian High Commission told SBS Hindi that the return of Indian students is a priority for them, and they are actively pursuing the issue with the relevant Australian authorities and stakeholders through various channels.
“During the video conference with Deakin University, the issue regarding the return of Indian students was raised suitably with stress on the formulation of an effective and transparent action plan for [the] resumption of on-campus education of enrolled Indian students in Australian universities,” the spokesperson told SBS Hindi.
Data from the federal government suggests that more than 110,000 international students currently enrolled with Australian education providers are studying remotely due to the border closures.
The Indian High Commission at Canberra has also started collating data of students stranded in India.
“The High Commission will continue to pursue every possible avenue to ensure the earliest return of Indian students to Australia in a COVID-safe manner,” the spokesperson added.
Niruja Joshi, a student at Deakin University and currently stranded in India’s western state of Maharashtra, welcomed the initiative by the Indian High Commission.
Ms Joshi is a student of architecture and has completed her first trimester online.
“I hope the Australian government will allow the fully-vaccinated soon,” she told SBS Hindi from Pune.
“When I accepted the university’s admission offer, it was made clear to me that the initial education will be online. My only worry is that others, who are already in Australia, will have an edge over us as my studies require field visits for studying Australian architecture,” Ms Joshi added.
Another international student, Jitesh Sindhwani, who is yet to set foot in Australia, sees this as a positive step by the Indian government in the interest of people like him.
“I hope, I am able to travel to Australia before my visa expires in December. I have already finished nine out 16 subjects in India,” Mr Sindhwani told SBS Hindi from his home in the north Indian state of Haryana.
Mr Sindhwani is a masters student at a university in Victoria.
A Deakin University spokesperson told SBS Hindi that Mr Vohra sought clarity on the situation during the talks with the university.
“The Indian High Commissioner expressed the need for clarity around when Indian students might be able to return, including timelines and what requirements students would have to prepare for,” the spokesperson said.
“At Deakin, we recognise the anxiety and frustration felt by international students at not yet being able to return, and that greater clarity around planning would help everyone involved in the sector.
“We remain focused on the importance of our relationship with India, across education and research, and will do everything within our power to make sure these issues are resolved as soon as possible,” the spokesperson added.
The university said it had 66,263 student enrolments, including 14,901 international enrolments as of May.
“Of those international students, 25 per cent were from India,” it added.