Australia assures it will ensure safety of Indian students

June 23rd, 2008 - 10:34 am ICT by IANS  

By Neena Bhandari
Canberra, June 23 (IANS) Australia Monday assured visiting Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee that it takes the safety and well-being of Indian overseas students seriously. In a joint statement issued following the fifth Australia-India Foreign Ministers Framework Dialogue held here this morning, Australian Foreign Minister Smith said the Australian government would continue to address concerns about the safety and well-being of Indian students in Australia in an active way.

Smith stressed that Australia authorities would also continue to follow up any incidents involving Indian students quickly and efficiently.

In recent months, several incidents of attacks on Indian students have come to light, fuelling widespread protests in Melbourne and Adelaide.

Education has become a cornerstone of India-Australia bilateral relationship with more than 52,000 Indian students currently enrolled in educational institutions Down Under. India is now Australia’s second largest source of overseas students after China.

A new joint working group on visas, passports and consular issues was announced with the view to facilitate greater practical cooperation in these areas.

The ministers underlined the capacity for scientific cooperation, including via the bilateral strategic research fund. They noted the positive role being played by Australia’s Endeavour Scholarship Awards in strengthening knowledge links between the two countries.

Australian and Indian premier science organisations, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), will sign a Memorandum of Understanding in July to further their scientific collaboration.

This MOU will build on the recent signing of a research partnership between CSIRO and CSIR that focuses on research related to water, energy and sustainable agriculture.

The ministers noted the advantages of hosting the Square Kilometre Array, the world’s largest radio telescope, in Australia.

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