Foreign student drop leads to uni job cuts
By Melissa Brown
ABC News (Australia), October 14, 2010
The Victorian Opposition says hundreds of jobs will be lost because of the Government's failure to address concerns about violence against Indian students.
The National Tertiary Education Union says Monash University will cut about 300 staff because of a nationwide fall in international student numbers.
The university needs to cut $45-million from its budget.
Monash's vice-president of administration, Peter Marshall, says the exact number will not be known until the end of the month.
'We've tried to be open with staff, to tell the reasons why we're having to take this prudent management act,' he said.
'All we've asked staff to do is to express interest in a voluntary separation package.'
Mr Marshall says the university will first try to cut expenses associated with purchasing, contracting and staff travel.
'We think this is because of the immigration uncertainty that international students are now experiencing and also the strength of the Australian dollar,' he said.
Opposition leader Ted Baillieu says violence in Melbourne has played a significant role in the decline in international students coming to Victoria.
'There is no doubt that the violence against international students set up a situation where there was great apprehension,' he said.
'When the visa changes were introduced, the Government sat on its hands and ignored what were obvious problems and on top of that the Government's failed to regulate the vocational education sector.'
Education Minister Bronwyn Pike has hit back at suggestions the Government is to blame.
She says the value of the Australian dollar and changes to Federal immigration laws are causing the fall.
'The high Australian dollar means that we are not as competitive for many students and Ted Baillieu is a bit silly for not noticing this,' she said.
'The other factors are squarely in the hands of the Commonwealth Government and we're certainly working with them to get the right balance between educational opportunities and on-going residency.'
The vice-chancellor of the University of Melbourne, Glyn Davis, is warning tertiary student applications from India are expected to fall by up to 90 percent by 20-11.
He says the Federal Government must fine-tune its student visa policy to continue to attract overseas students.
He says incidents involving students in Victoria have played a part in the drop-off in applications.
'Most people think about universities in terms of the local students,' he said.
'In this state, higher education is the largest export. So this is the single biggest industry in Victoria and it's taking a very sharp dive.'