The tale of Pakistani students in Australia


By Zeeshan Yaqub & Azmat Khan

Main attraction for the Pakistani students studying in Australia are quality of education, peace-full environment, good earning opportunities and better future, whereas in Pakistan militancy and war and terror are on rage which have badly affected the peace of this region as well as educational institutions.

According to Danyal Hassan khan, Vice President Pakistan Students Association Australia, more than thousand students are enrolled in Australian universities every year from Pakistan for higher education. The main aim of majority of the students is to find good source of earning and getting settled down here in Australia by acquiring permanent residency, because it is the most livable country in the world.”

Answering the question about the struggle Pakistani go through for getting a visa, he told, “Visa process in Pakistan is very tedious and expensive. It requires huge amount of money and majority of the students who go abroad for studies have borrowed the money from someone or from their parents”. This is the reason why finding a job at most, becomes their first priority in Australia. They either have to repay someone’s debt back home or lighten the stress of their parents who have invested heavily in their studies. The higher exchange levels of Australian dollar against Pakistani rupee is an incentive to toil hard to repay the money invested in the journey. But once they get settled there, they are confronted with a new problem. Once they are accustomed to the lifestyle in Australia, it is difficult for these people to adjust back in Pakistan.

Danyal Khan also highlighted that Consulates of Western countries have intentionally added restrictions to the visa processes for Pakistani students to discourage the young Pakistanis from coming to Australia. The reason for that is that these people don’t want to leave after completion of their studies. “Right now they are making the criteria tougher every passing day. There is always a saturation level in immigration. Somewhere the host government has to put the brakes on the process to avoid complications. This is happening to our students at this moment,” he added.

Danyal Hassan khan, Vice President Pakistan Students Association Australia.

About returning back to Pakistan after completion of his studies, he said, “I would prefer to stay here in Australia, if I could, because I have spent a lot of time making this place my comfort zone.” As non-native people do have problems in settling down in the new environment, culture, lifestyle and discourses. They try hard to mold themselves according to particular society and it’s harder for them to leave a developed country and go back to developing country, although it is their motherland.

However contrary to the general perception, the vice president acknowledged the good and cooperative behavior of fellow Australians but also highlighted that being non-native is not a walk in the park. To a question about racism, he said that it depended on how one defined racism. “If you are a foreigner, everything bad happens to you is not racism because the same also happens among these [native] people.” From my experience, he observed, in Australia so far, there are no issues of racism given that we [foreign students] do not use victim card.”

The former Vice-President of the Pakistani Students Association (who kept his identity confidential) mentioned about certain groups in Australia who dislike immigrants and blame them of stealing their jobs opportunities. “Australians are quite welcoming. I’m talking about the majority, of course. But there also are people who are not competent enough so they think that the people who are coming from overseas are grabbing their jobs, taking away opportunities from them. It is their wrongly held perception. But if you concentrate on these things, you will be distracted from your goal of getting education,”

Pakistani Association in Melbourne, MUPS
Get together to mark national day of Pakistan, organized by Melbourne University Pakistan Society.

Sherry Khan is Director of the Pakistani Students Association in Australia. He highlighted that Pakistan and Australia have cricket in common and both are famous cricketing nations. Currently, there are12 Pakistani cricket teams in Melbourne. This is a sign of social freedom and integration of other ethnic and racial groups in the Australia. “In order to celebrate common cultural events, religious gatherings, and national days like all other non-Australians, they also occasionally get together through community groups and associations,” he added.

Pakistani people and associations (in Australia) regularly follow their national political and social developments [of Pakistan]. They also stage protests in press clubs against important issues and also condemn terror attacks by conducting small peaceful rallies. They carry out special vigils and prayers for the victims of terrorism and violence and show solidarity with their countrymen back home. They also show great support for their sportsmen and artist who come to Australia. This reflects their love for the homeland. (These views were shared by different fellow Australian students at RMIT.)

Pakistanis, studying and earning in Australia don’t want to come back to their country permanently because of the ongoing recession, militancy and financial crises. Security issues and lack of good earning opportunities in Pakistan are also the reasons they prefer staying in the West. But this doesn’t mean that they dislike Pakistan or are less loyal to their country. The only reason for their stay is to get settled in a peaceful and better society with more opportunities. Majority of Pakistani students enrolled in Australian universities have termed Australia as the best place for living. But the fact is that once these societies were also backward colonies. They strived hard with their indigenous confidence and made their society livable. Pakistani students, after getting knowledge and skills in these developed countries, can come back and utilize their energies to develop their native lands so that coming generation are not on the run to western countries.

Reported with the assistance of Patrick Laverick and Isodora Bogle from RMIT.

Photos courtesy: Facebook Page Melbourne University Pakistan Society &

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