Safety of Indian students abroad

The recent attacks on Indian students in Australia have prompted outrage in the international Indian student diaspora, though racism has always been a reality of life abroad. Still, without succumbing to paranoid, it is possible to be aware and prepared when you go abroad to study.

That attacks on Indians are a combination of jealousy for affluence and disrespect for the achievements of Indian students. Many of the attackers are from mediocre academic backgrounds. The attacks are a result of jealousy and fear among some local people, who perceive young dynamic Indians as a serious threat in the competitive job market. In addition, Indians are also no longer awed by white skin, and demand equal treatment in terms of salaries and promotions on the basis of merit and performance. Locals who were used to seeing Indians as more docile with menial jobs, such as cleaning airports and driving taxis, have been antagonized by the progress of the Indian community within their country.

Another major reason why Indian students are frequently victimized is because they very often fail to mix around with natives. Indian students are naïve and fail to blend in with the people of the country they live in. They not only dress differently but also behave in a distinctive manner which attracts unnecessary attention.

Firstly you should be aware that different countries and universities have different mechanisms to deal with racist on students.

Australia: Universities have implemented a range of strategies to deal with this issue. International students can help each other by talking to friends and peers. Students can also get in touch with the NUS and the international office at their institute and report attacks to the police.

New Zealand: There were 6000 Indian students in New Zealand in 2008. About the safety mechanisms adopted by institutes across the country to prevent racist attacks. Most universities have community police, some of which have offices on campus. Any student being harassed on-campus can immediately go to the police and ask for aid.

United Kingdom: Though the UK is one of the most popular study destinations among Indian students (currently 31,000 Indian students are pursuing their education in the UK), racist attacks on Indians students in the country are not unheard of. The UK Race Relations Act is one of the most comprehensive laws against racial discrimination in the world. Victims of racial attacks report the event to the institution immediately. The institute will conduct a formal enquiry into the matter and bring the culprits to book. Additionally victims can seek support from the college staff, including international student advisers, counselors and student union welfare officers. All universities in the UK have campus security officers, who are in contact with local police forces.

USA: A whopping 94,563 Indian students were studying in Institutes across the US in 2008. The chief reason for the popularity of the US among Indian students is the country’s promise for equal and air treatment to international students and immigrants, not only on paper, but in practice as well. The US has strict policies for the safety of international students. The process differs for racist comments on campus. Students can consult faculty and academic affairs and student affairs offices, in case of any race related abuse. Students can approach Student Affairs for assistance in case the event occurs in their dorms… Violence involves stronger penalties. The university decides whether they want to call the local police or hand over the matter to the institute’s judicial bench.

Students may face difficulty in sleeping or focusing on their studies after a traumatic attack. In such cases, they can take the advantage of the school’s confidential counseling center.

Canada: Known as a safe haven for students, racist attacks in Canada are. However, institutes do have mechanisms in place in case of an attack. Campus security help protect students. Many campuses have student volunteer foot patrols that offer single students (or anyone who request support) the option of being escorted safety to their residence at late hours. However, in any case if students do face any kind of racial abuse they should report the attack to the campus security and local police. Students should contact the student office that can help them register a police complaint.

Racist attacks are not an uncommon phenomenon, so it is best to be extra cautions at all times when you are abroad. Agents sell peaches and cream all the way down the path. Any university hard sold by an agent is not the best option. So do your research before going to any country.

1) Research the number of international students on-campus at the institute you plan to study in. talk to these students to find out how they are treated by their counterparts and faculty
2) Check with universities about their mechanisms to deal with racist attacks.
3) Go to pre-departure orientation sessions.
4) Attend orientation program organized by your institute
5) Be observant of your surroundings
6) Go out in groups
7) Always check part time jobs carefully
8) Avoid traveling alone at night
9) Interact with students from other countries
10) Do not flaunt expensive gadgets unnecessarily while commuting / traveling
11) Try to dress and talk like locals
12) Keep emergency numbers handy.