Speaking to The PIE, Tanisha Dhariwal, a prospective Law student from India, said that she was looking to enrol in an Australian university in January this year, but has chosen to postpone her enrolment until borders open.

“I would like to see my self settling down in Australia in the long run, and therefore I have decided not to go to other countries, such as Canada or the UK, for my studies,” she said.

“Some timelines from the Australian government would be really helpful for me to be able to plan my enrolment and for others in my shoes.”

While many prospective students from India have postponed their enrolments, there is a large number who have commenced their studies online in the hopes of being able to come to Australia before graduating.

Contemporary Art student Damini Esther Mehra is enrolled in the University of South Australia in Adelaide. She has been studying online since February this year and has been hoping to come to Australia to study in-person.

“It has been really hard to engage with teachers and other students in my course”

Speaking to The PIE, Damini mentioned her concerns with the current arrangement for her studies.

“Although I have been trying my best to make the most of the online study, due to lack of an in-person interaction, it has been really hard to engage with teachers and other students in my course.”

A recent survey found that student satisfaction around learner engagement at Australian universities has significantly fallen during the pandemic.

“It’s disappointing as I was really looking forward to this new chapter of my life,” Damini said, adding that a phased repatriation of vaccinated students would be really helpful.

In recent interviews, the High Commissioner of India to Australia, H.E. Manpreet Vohra, has stated his optimism on the return of Indian students to Australian universities, once border restrictions into Australia are eased. The High Commissioner has also been in talks with Australian universities on this subject, in efforts to facilitate the return of students from India.

According to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade report on Australia’s India Economic Strategy to 2035, the higher education sector is the most significant point of engagement between the two countries, who are increasingly becoming important partners.

Indian students, the flag bearers of this blossoming bilateral relationship, are awaiting their turn to come and study in Australia and enrich its universities, economy, and society. Their long wait might have to continue though, till 80% of Australia gets vaccinated.

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