An Australian senator has called for "drastically reducing" the student visa numbers in the country, where India is the second largest source of international students after China.
Fraser Anning, from the conservative Bob Katter's Australian Party, in his maiden speech at the Senate, targeted foreign students by asking for an "end to Australian-job-stealing 457 visas" and "force international students to return to their country of origin once they finish their education", SBS News reported.
Anning used his first speech yesterday to urge a host of changes to Australia's immigration policy. "Student visas should be drastically reduced in number. This will create more university places for Australians, whose parents have actually paid for the universities with their taxes in the first place," Anning said.
"Those studying here who decide to apply to immigrate should be required to return to their country of origin after their qualification and to apply as part of the general migration programme."
Close to 200 nationalities are represented in Australia's international student population.
Of the total, more than half (53 per cent) of all international students in the country come from five countries: China (30 per cent), India (11 per cent), Nepal (5 per cent), Malaysia (4 per cent), and Brazil (4 per cent), according to a report by ICEF monitor, a market intelligence resource for the international education industry.
More Indian students are opting for admissions in Australian institutions. Universities such as New South Wales, Deakin, Canberra and Queensland had a "very good 2017", as far as the increase in Indian students is concerned, SBS News reported earlier.
As many as 291,916 Indians migrated to Australia between 2000 and 2016, of which 154,012 individuals have acquired Australian citizenship, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in July.
The data came at a time when Australia is witnessing fierce public debate on immigration amidst concern about jobs and overcrowding in major cities. The 457 visa programme allowed businesses to employ foreign workers for a period up to four years in skilled jobs where there was a shortage of Australian workers. The majority of the visa holders under the category were from India.
At the end of June 2014, 397,180 Indian-born people were living in Australia, more than double the number at 30 June 2006. This makes the Indian-born population the fourth largest migrant community in Australia, equivalent to 6.0 per cent of Australia's overseas born population and 1.7 per cent of Australia's total population.
Anning also alleged that Muslims were responsible for acts of terror and crime and were dependant on welfare. Muslims account for less than three per cent of Australia's population, census data shows.
"The final solution to the immigration problem is, of course, a popular vote," Anning concluded, before proposing a plebiscite "to allow the Australian people to decide whether they want wholesale non-English speaking immigrants from the Third World and, in particular, whether they want any Muslims". (With wire inputs)