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Victoria University funds evidence-building study into attacks on students

Victoria University's Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research and Region Professor Linda Rosenman today announced a $20,000 grant for a fast-turnaround study into attacks on international students.

The grant from the University's research budget will fund a two-month study by VU's institute for Community Ethnicity and Policy Alternatives (ICEPA) to establish the underlying reasons for the attacks and recommend strategies to prevent them.

"ICEPA has established research expertise in this area that this study will build upon as part of the University's broad-based program on student safety and commitment to community engagement," Professor Rosenman said.

"There is an urgent need to establish the motivations behind these attacks so that the police, government and education providers can respond appropriately."

The project will be led by ICEPA director Professor Hurriyet Babacan.

Professor Babacan said the main components of the project would comprise:

  • a survey of students involved in attacks and anxious about attacks from across metropolitan Melbourne with a focus on the western suburbs;
  • comparative studies of students from India and China;
  • gathering information from educational institutions and student bodies in those countries on student expectations;
  • an examination of policies and responses of key stakeholders such as the police, public transport providers, key government and non-government agencies and education providers both public and private.

"The question of the motivation for the upsurge in attacks on international students, particularly those from India, has centred on opportunity versus race-hatred," Professor Babacan said.

"Police say their evidence is that these attacks are largely opportunistic, while many in the Indian community believe that racial hatred is a leading cause."

"But we have no reliable data, not least because so many of these attacks are unreported. Once we have some authoritative evidence we can recommend appropriate responses."

A team of five leading investigators has been established and expects to deliver its report to the University and beyond by early August.

Professor Babacan is available for comment.

Media contact: Jim Buckell, A/Senior Media Officer

Marketing and Communications Department, Victoria University

Ph: (03) 9919 4243; mobile: 0400 465 459; email: jim.buckell@vu.edu.au

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