Australian envoy to India cautions students about fraudulent education and migration consultants, who have been increasingly involved in fabricating documents for entry into the Commonwealth. In light of a concerning rise in visa document forgery, several Australian universities recently refused applications from six Indian states.
According to The Hindu’s report on Tuesday, diplomat Barry O’Farrell addressed journalists and highlighted the failure of migration agents to accurately complete students’ forms. He expressed concerns about the surge in false information and fraudulent applications, leading a handful of Australian universities to suspend the services of responsible migration agents.
In an effort to safeguard their education plans in Australia, students intending to study in the country have been advised by Barry O’Farrell, the Australian envoy to India, to closely monitor the paperwork handled by their agency and maintain copies for their own assurance. O’Farrell’s recommendation comes amidst concerns over the increasing incidence of falsified documents by education and migration consultants.
As a response to the growing trend of fraudulent visa documents, two prominent Australian universities have taken action. Federation University in Victoria and Western Sydney University in New South Wales have announced a ban on accepting students from specific Indian states, namely Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir.
The Federation University issued a statement to agents on May 19, explaining the rationale behind their decision. They highlighted a significant rise in visa application refusals from certain Indian regions by the Department of Home Affairs. Initially hoping for a short-term issue, the university has now recognised an ongoing trend, leading them to believe that refusal rates from these regions in North India are unlikely to decrease in the foreseeable future.
Acknowledging the potential impact of visa refusals on students’ future study plans, the university made the difficult decision to halt the processing of applications from these regions. This measure aims to avoid placing applicants at a higher risk of receiving a visa refusal that could significantly impact their educational aspirations.
Western Sydney University has reportedly taken measures to address the attrition risk associated with students from Punjab, Haryana, and Gujarat. Consequently, applications from these states will no longer be accepted by the university.
While unconfirmed reports suggest that other institutions, including Victoria University, Edith Cowan University, University of Wollongong, Torrens University, and Southern Cross University, are also considering or have already implemented restrictions and enhanced scrutiny for Indian students from these states.
These bans have emerged despite Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Sydney in May. During the meeting, discussions on regional security, economic ties, and a migration deal to encourage Indian student travel to Australia took place.
In a television interview, Albanese highlighted the positive impact of Indian students accessing education in Australia, stating that hundreds of thousands of Indian students have been able to pursue education in the country, which he believed was beneficial for Australia’s economy.
In a collaborative effort, India and Australia reached an agreement in March to establish a mechanism that would enable Indian students who have pursued their education in Australia to have their degrees recognised in India, and vice versa. This move aims to facilitate the acknowledgement and utilisation of educational qualifications obtained by students in both countries.
Despite the challenges posed by the migration process, an increasing number of Indian students are opting to relocate abroad in pursuit of improved living standards and a higher quality of life. Traditionally, the middle class in India has sought better prospects overseas for several decades. However, the current economic conditions are compelling families from economically disadvantaged rural areas to make significant investments in order to establish new lives overseas.
Interestingly, this trend persists despite the initially higher costs associated with studying and living in countries such as Canada and Australia. The allure of better opportunities seems to outweigh the financial considerations for Indian students and their families.
In a similar incident, Canada faced a situation in March where authorities discovered fake college admission letters used by individuals to study and reside in the country. As a result, 700 students were slated for deportation.
Recognising the potential impact on the affected students, several Canadian government officials have written letters in support of them, urging that the penalties be dropped. Federal Immigration Minister Sean Fraser confirmed that authorities are actively investigating the reports of fraudulent acceptance letters. He further emphasised that their focus is on identifying those responsible rather than penalising the victims.
According to information shared by the Ministry of Home Affairs, a total of 163,370 Indians renounced their citizenship in 2021. The data revealed that the highest number of citizenship renunciations originated from the United States, with 78,284 applications, followed by Australia with 23,533, and Canada with 21,597.