Indians are 'the happiest students in Oz'

Despite attacks...

The country hosted an education fair in Bangalore on Thursday, where officials gave Deccan Herald unreleased excerpts from the recent survey showing that most Indian students were satisfied with life in Australia.

Peter Nolan, the Australian High Commission’s first secretary of education, said the government and universities had felt it important to hold information sessions here in the light of the difficulties some Indian students had faced in the past 18 months.

Reports about a spate of racially motivated attacks on Indian students began in 2008 and continued through 2009, when one student was put in a coma and Indians staged rallies across major Australian cities.

In January 2010, accounting graduate Nitin Garg, of Punjab, was stabbed to death by teenagers while walking to work.

Nolan said the attacks had occurred, but they were not typical — a quarter of the Australian population was born overseas and racism was “just not what we’re about”.

“Overall, the vast majority of international students have a very positive living and learning experience, and that has been demonstrated in the 2010 International Student Survey,” he said.

The full survey, containing breakdowns by nationality, is yet to be released, but Nolan disclosed some key results:

* Out of the five largest nationality groups, Indian students expressed the highest satisfaction with their overall living experiences.
* Of the 10 largest nationality groups, Indian students were the most satisfied with their learning experiences.
* Indian and Malaysian students were the most satisfied with support services.

An initial overview report at aei.gov.au says 86 per cent of international students in higher education responded that they were either satisfied or very satisfied with living in Australia when surveyed between March and May 2010.

More than 36,000 international higher education students responded to the survey, a rate of about 25 per cent. They were invited to participate in the online survey by email alerts sent from within their institutions.

Nolan said Australia took the assaults very seriously, as evidenced by long jail terms handed out to attackers.

Among its responses, the country has set up a website, myoznetwork.com, so Indian students can share their experiences in Australia.

Prospective students at the fair in Bangalore said they still thought of the attacks when looking into Australian universities, but friends in the country reassured them that they had faced no problems.

Ahmad Nabavi, who recently completed an undergraduate degree at Bangalore University, said he felt closer to Australia than other Western nations. He was also applying to the United States, but Australia was his first choice, he said.

The country was near to Asia and more familiar, he said. “I think Australians behave more like us.”

Canberra Institute of Technology international recruitment officer Anna Kolber said Australia was a safe country despite the attacks.

She had previously worked for a British university, and she found that Australian universities took better care of their international students, Kolber said.

Darren Turner, senior manager of global recruitment for the Australian campus of Carnegie Mellon University, a US institution, said there was less competition for places in Australia for the same degrees.

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