Mumbai: Two more Australian universities have reportedly prohibited enrolling students from Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, as well as Jammu and Kashmir in response to new concerns over a surge in fraudulent visa applications, according to a media report.
The Federation University in Victoria and Western Sydney University in New South Wales instructed education agents last week not to recruit students from Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, and Uttar Pradesh, as well as Jammu and Kashmir.
The move comes as rejection rates for Indian applicants across all Australian universities have soared to their highest level in a decade, with one in four applications now being deemed as “fraudulent” or “non-genuine” by the Department of Home Affairs, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Indian students and agents have called on Australian universities to reverse a decision to suspend recruitment from regions of North India, saying the move borders on discrimination.
According to Deepali Sajnani, a Destination Manager for Australia at Search Education, the majority of Punjab and Haryana are affected the most.
"I understand that the profiles coming from these regions are mostly non genuine but then this is biased with the minimal % of genuine students who may belong to Faridabad or Noida or Gurgaon or any other posh areas which fortunately or unfortunately comes in the restricted areas," adds Sajnani.
Sajnani argues that the Australian Government should increase the scrutiny level of these regions and pick the best ones out of it rather than restricting these zones completely.
A student from Uttar Pradesh, who doesn't want to disclose his real name fearing further visa repercussions, said he is devastated and is now researching alternate foreign academic places.
When he was rejected earlier this month, his Australian dream was crushed. He tells the FPJ, "I have a good academic record, but even so, I was turned down because the authorities think I am not a genuine applicant."
Australian universities, including Victoria University, Edith Cowan University, Torrens University, and Southern Cross University, imposed a ban or restriction on students from certain Indian states last month in response to an increase in fraudulent applications seeking employment, rather than study, in the country.
Another applicant, Lavish Sharma from Haryana, who submitted an application to a university in Australia is still awaiting his offer letter.
"I appreciate that Australia needs qualified and sincere applicants to its universities," Sharma said, "but banning an entire region because of a few cases is likely to have a significant negative impact on sincere applicants."
Sharma says that it is getting harder for universities to distinguish between fraudulent and legitimate applications because of the rise of agents and fraudulent applications.
According to a Mumbai-based consultant, "Such ad hoc decisions not just demotivate the students but the agents as well. It could damage the excellent reputation of Australian Education across the Indian Student Community."
"Most universities must safeguard themselves, but they need to recognize that these actions unintentionally harm genuine students just because they are from specific regions of India as it is discriminatory,” added the consultant.
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