Australian university denies ban on applications from Indian students.(photo:University of Wollongong)

New Delhi, April 20 (IANS) Australia’s University of Wollongong (UOW) said on Thursday that it has not placed any ban or restriction on applications from Indian students, nor on students from any specific Indian states or regions.

It was reported that UOW was one of the five universities that had placed ban or restriction on students from some Indian states in response to a surge in fraudulent applications seeking to work, and not study, in the country.

The UOW said in a statement that it “does not have any restrictions on student applications from India other than the standard entry criteria we apply to all international students and the requirements of the Australian Department of Home Affairs”.

Instead of introducing restrictions, UOW said it has streamlined its application process for all international students, including Indian students, to speed up the turnaround time on their applications.

An investigation by the Australian media said that these universities are making it tough to enrol students from states like Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat, as they suspect their prime purpose is to take up jobs rather than study.

Australian newspapers reported that UOW has been putting students from the Indian subcontinent and some other countries like Lebanon, Nigeria, etc. through a “genuine temporary entrant” test.

“Like all Australian universities, UOW has rigorous entry criteria for all students. All Australian universities are required to guard against fraudulent applications,” the university statement said, adding that UOW works hard to ensure that the “admissions process is fair and just and accessible to all students”.

The University said that it monitors trends in enrolment fraud, regularly reviews processes, and works closely with the Department of Home Affairs to ensure international student applications are genuine.

Australia is reportedly set to enrol the highest number of Indian students ever, surpassing the previous high of 75,000 in 2019.

This has raised questions from lawmakers and the education community about “the integrity of Australia’s immigration system and the long-term effects on the country’s valuable international education market”, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

“Our overall visa refusal rate over the past 12 months is low, with only a tiny amount relating to refusal based on fraud (the lowest of the possible Department of Home Affairs reporting bands),” UOW said.

UOW has research and education collaborations with close to 30 Indian universities, and it attracts significant number of Indian students to both their Wollongong Campus and the University of Wollongong in Dubai.

As of 2023, more than 2,500 Indian students are enrolled at UOW in Australia, with business, engineering and information sciences the most popular degrees.

Last year, UOW had launched the Vice-Chancellor’s Leadership Scholarship-India, which provides recipients with generous financial assistance, leadership training, dedicated academic support, community networking, and global mobility opportunities.

The other universities mentioned by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald report included Victoria University, Edith Cowan University, Torrens University, and agents working for Southern Cross University.

According to The Herald, the Edith Cowan University in Perth “placed an outright ban” on applicants from Punjab and Haryana in February, and in March, “Victoria University increased restrictions on student applications from eight Indian states”, including Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat.