Two more Australian universities have banned the recruitment of students from some Indian states in response to fresh concerns over a surge in fraudulent visa applications, a media report said.
The Federation University in Victoria and Western Sydney University in New South Wales wrote to education agents last week instructing them to no longer recruit students from Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, as well as the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The development comes even as visiting Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke of more "Australian and Indian students living and studying in each other's countries, and bringing those experiences home".
Also, the two nations signed the migration and mobility partnership arrangement today to promote exchange of students, graduates, researchers and business people.
"The university has observed a significant increase in the proportion of visa applications being refused from some Indian regions by the Department of Home Affairs," the Federation University's letter to agents said.
"We hoped this would prove to be a short-term issue (but) it is now clear there is a trend emerging," the letter, published in The Herald, read.
Last month, Australian universities, including Victoria University, Edith Cowan University, Torrens University, and Southern Cross University had placed a 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.
"A large number of Indian students who commenced study in 2022 intakes have not remained enrolled, resulting in a significantly high attrition rate," the Western Sydney University told agents in a message sent on May 8.
The university identified Punjab, Gujarat and Haryana as regions presenting the highest attrition risk.
"Due to the urgency of this matter, the university has decided to pause recruitment from these regions in India, effective immediately," the university message said, adding that recruitment from all other regions in India will continue as usual.
The Western Sydney University said the ban would be in place for at least two months -- May and June 2023.
It further said that additional measures would be taken "to address the issue of non-genuine students enrolling with the university from these regions, including changes to application screening, stricter admissions conditions and increases to commencement fees".
One in four applications from India are now being deemed as "fraudulent" or "non-genuine" by the Department of Home Affairs, the report said.
Australia is reportedly set to enrol the highest number of Indian students ever, surpassing the previous high of 75,000 in 2019.
The Department of Home Affairs told a federal parliamentary inquiry last week that the rejection rate for applications from India is 24.3 per cent -- highest since 2012.
(With inputs from IANS)