Foreign students concerned over attacks

Figures say that there has been a drop off in Indian student numbers this year, but the welcome mat has being rolled out, for all new arrivals, by a university volunteer program.

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Vounteers says this is not just a PR exercise aimed at international students, but an attempt to make them feel safe and welcome.

But students who arrivevd today seemed concerned after having heard the reports of student-targeted violence in Australia.

Ambreen Lakhani, from the US, is here to study for a masters in teaching. She’s not worried herself, but she says everyone around her was concerned.

Arnab Das has come from India to study for a PhD in Australia.

“There was some problem already some tension in my household with my parents saying ‘Please don’t go there’,” he told SBS.

The student volunteers feel they can make a difference.

“We wanted to make sure that they had a friendly face that really personalised information when they started so our volunteers also advise about the student experience, about clubs and societies, and ways to get invloved, to break down the barriers,” student co-ordinator Brendan McKeon said.

A study released this week found a majority of overseas students surveyed in Melbourne had felt threatened at some stage during their stay.

The researchers also spoke to Victoria Police, some of whom felt that the boundary lines between racially motivated and opportunistic crimes were not always clear cut.

“Most of the police we interviewed said that they could think of particular incidents where racism and opportunism combined and worked together,” Associate Prof Michele Grossman from Victoria University said.

Among the study’s recommendations, there’s better information and continued support for new international students.