Mumbai: Ph.D. scholars who were on their way to Australian Universities still find themselves stuck, well before transit. The Australian Embassy has been especially slow and stringent while granting student visas to Ph.D. scholars, alleged students. Several Indian students who have already been offered scholarships in reputed Australian universities have been forced to continue their fellowships online, or even lapse their fellowships if the university does not allow remote research.
Those who chose to continue their research online with Australian Universities have found themselves in a financial fix, for visa reapplication alone costs a hefty sum of forty thousand rupees.
“I have been paying a full tuition amount alongside an ‘amenities’ fee to the University of Sydney, while I don’t even use their WIFI. My research stipend for the last two years has been held back too,” said a space research student from Pune.
Researchers whose universities do not offer online fellowships have also been adversely affected by these visa delays. Many have missed the three intakes that their scholarship lasts for, and run the risk of losing the opportunity. “I have written to all the possible authorities involved in the matter. The standard response is that they are conducting the necessary background checks,” said Parkash Kumar from Ranchi, a Material Science researcher admitted to the University of New South Wales.
After writing relentlessly to the Australian Ministry of Home Affairs, Twitter and LinkedIn have been the go-to platforms for these students to collectively voice their concerns. Whatsapp groups and retweets have united students from other SinAsian countries like China and Pakistan who are facing the same problem. “We have connected with over a hundred research students who have undergone the same problem. The Chinese government had also warned their students to keep away from pursuing PhDs in Australia, as the visas were slow,” added Parkash Kumar.
News students keep adding onto these groups as the visa delay which began three years ago still persists. Withdrawing their applications and submitting news forms has been the way to go for many. “When I looked at my old application I realised how I made some glaring blunders. Several answers were ambiguous, and I think that's why visas are being held up. The least they could do is tell us why the application is wrong instead of keeping it on hold,” said a research student from Chattisgarh awaiting his fellowship at Macquarie University. The students continue to remain at odds with the officials given the ambiguity of their responses which have taken away crucial academic years.
Given Australia's lackluster response, many Indian students have simply chosen to pursue PhDs in other countries like Singapore, which presents the students with a much faster visa process.
“I did not receive my Ph.D. visa after a year of applying, and my stipend expired. Whether it's the student or the vice-chancellor, the Australian authorities always send the same template response and the process gets frustrating. This is why I chose Singapore even when my mentor offered me another option at the university,” said Joel J, a Ph.D. scholar from Kerala, who applied to Australian National University.
The Free Press Journal has reached out to concerned authorities in India, Australia, and is expecting responses from the same.
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