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3 Pakistani students in Australia commit suicide

3 Pakistani students commit suicide after Australian Education Minister blocked Pakistani students from entering the country due to covid-19 restrictions. Foreign Minister of Pakistan has pledged to raise the issue with Australian officials.

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Three Pakistani students have given up their life by suicide due to educational problems after Australian Education Minister declared that Pakistani students will not be allowed in the country due to covid-19 restrictions, a National Assembly panel heard on Monday.

The National Assembly’s standing committee on overseas Pakistanis has asked the foreign minister Mr. Shah Mehmood Qureshi to raise the unfortunate event with his Australian counterpart Marise Payne.

The committee was presided over by Chairman Shaikh Fiazuddin, where problems faced by the students were discussed. Speaking on the issue, one of the student named Usman, who is also affected by the situation in Australia, gave details on the circumstances being faced by the Pakistani students.

He elaborated to the lawmakers that ever since the pandemic hit, Australia closed its borders, and at least five thousand Pakistanis on visit visas have been stranded in the country ever since. Three of the students took the decision of suicide after education-related problems spiraled out of control during lockdown.

It was also informed in the briefing that at present billions have been invested by almost 12,000 Pakistani students prospecting to continue their education in Australia, however, the Australian Education Minister has blocked Pakistani students although Indian students were invited and Australian players are also going on tours abroad.

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Foreign office officials also pointed out that that education consultants representing Australian universities in Pakistan were ruthless people who ensnared students to advance their own interests. They also claimed that the issue has been raised with the Australian officials.

The Pakistan High Commission held a virtual meeting with Alan Tudge, the Federal Minister for Education and Youth of Australia, on 4th August. During the meeting, the problems faced by Pakistani students were brought to light and the education minister Alan Tudge agreed to raise the issue of arrival of Pakistani students, especially prioritizing their return in early batches to Australia on appropriate fora.

Australian student leader on shut borders

Belle Lim is the President of the Council of International Students Australia who was recently interviewed regarding the travel restrictions imposed on incoming international students.

When asked about her thoughts on the travel restrictions and the prospects of the new pilot program efficiently allowing international students in Australia to return, she responded

“The short answer is no, because we have been talking about this for a very, very long time. There are students that have paid a full tuition fee and they weren’t able to access the education which is completely unfair.”

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“It’s frustrating to deal with the government’s direction as they don’t see international students in Australia as rightful residents in this country. We deserve a right to receive the education we paid for.”

“I think its positive news that it looks like the pilot plan will go ahead but 250 students every fortnight is a small fraction to the 160,000 students stuck outside the country. A drop in the ocean, if you will. I don’t think students will be able to come into Australia, at least for another year until the borders completely open.”

Future of International Students

Australia’s education minister Alan Tudge said that international student’s entry in larger numbers would begin when up to 70 per cent of the eligible population gets fully-vaccinated.

“Our vaccination rates continue to increase, so too will our ability to welcome back international students,” said education minister Alan Tudge at a summit on 16 August.

He made these comments as he attempted to address concerns about the return of international students to Australia.

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“When our borders start to open, I am confident that students will return in significant numbers,” he added.

According to a report that analyses Australian investment in higher education, it has come to light that in 2020, international student revenue fell in real terms by A$868 million, or 8.6%, to A$9.2 billion. In the first six months of 2021, international student enrolments at public higher education institutions fell at an annualized trend rate of between 20% and 24%.

Report author Dr. Peter Hurley from Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute said 2020 was not as bad as expected, but warns the worst is still to come.

Read more: Pakistani students demand visas to China to resume their education!

“Our analysis suggests there are some very dark clouds on the horizon,” he said. “Special government support for the sector ends in 2021. Continuing border closures mean international student revenue is likely to continue to fall well into 2022 and 2023.”

The future of stranded international students remains uncertain until a proper way forward is announced by the government.

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