Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Age investigations on foreign students in Australia

From Foreign student death details suppressed:
"DETAILS of the deaths of more than 50 overseas students have been suppressed by Australian coroners amid evidence the death toll is higher than the Federal Government has admitted.

State and territory coroners, under the National Coroners Information System, have refused an application by The Age for data on the deaths of overseas students in the year to November 2008.
A leading expert on international education, Monash University business professor Chris Nyland, said he was concerned that a drive to protect Australia's lucrative $15.5 billion higher education export market was masking the suffering of foreign students.

"All countries that compete for the education market should be reporting that information," he said. "And … it would be wonderful if we had good data saying that it was not the case they are harmed at any greater rate than domestic students."

Professor Nyland said there was a need for a federal advisory body on student safety, made up of independent members free from "vested interests in seeing this thing dampened down and going away quietly". He called for mandatory statistical reporting of international student deaths.

National Union of Students president David Barrow said the Government faced losing billions in revenue if it failed to protect overseas students. "The time has come for a full-scale inquiry," he said. "Australian society and government needs to see all the facts."

Currently, if an overseas student dies here, the education provider is not required to give a cause of death when it reports the matter to the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Under the law, a college needs to report a death within a fortnight of early "termination" of studies. But it is left up to the college how thoroughly it reacts.

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Julia Gillard said the law would be reviewed this year and next.

Opposition Immigration spokeswoman Sharman Stone said she sought the data in February because foreign-student organisations suspected under-reporting of deaths. "To have 34 cited as unknown is an extraordinary statistic," she said.

"It will no doubt be raising further anxiety and alarm, particularly in the Indian student community and their parents and relatives and friends."

At least three overseas students died in the 12-month period after violent attacks, including an 18-year-old Chinese woman who was allegedly sexual assaulted by a knife-wielding assailant before she and her boyfriend fell from a balcony at Waterloo in Sydney.

Although the number of these deaths was well below homicide rates for the Australian population, it raises questions about reporting procedures from the booming private education providers."
The age also queries 'How did he die?' asks Indian family.

In the early 90's 'The Age' ran a sustained campaign against racism in Austrian Rules Football both among spectators and players. There seems to be a general improvement since then.

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