Coffs Coast Advocate

Master monica graduates

MONICA Nagpal has a hard time convincing family and friends back in India about her safety in Tweed.

The now former-Southern Cross University student, who graduated along side 13 other international students at the Riverside campus in Tweed Heads yesterday, believes the Indian media is unnecessarily worrying people about studying in Australia.

“I get calls in the middle of the night from family and friends back home asking if I'm okay because of something they saw on the news over there,” the 34-year-old said.

Recent reports suggest Australia's education sector is in danger of losing $2 billion annually due to violence against Indian students in Australia, mostly in capital cities like Sydney and Melbourne.

“I don't think it's as bad here in Australia as the Indian media claims it is,” Ms Nagpal said.

The mother of two said she has never felt threatened as a student in Tweed.

“I've never had any problem like that at all,” she said.

“We have found everyone to be really friendly here and people often go out of their way to help us.

“The children have enjoyed taking part in all the different sports at school, from surfing and basketball to AFL and cricket.”

Ms Nagpal was awarded a double Master in Professional Accounting and in Business Administration at the ceremony yesterday.

Monica arrived in the region to begin her studies two years ago with children Aarsh and Netra, who attend school on the Gold Coast.

Her husband divides his time between Australia and India.

Ms Nagpal said she hopes to open her own accounting business in the area soon.

“We've loved spending time here and now that I've finished my studies my husband and I plan to explore the possibility of staying permanently and setting up a business here,” she said.

Ms Nagpal said she had mixed emotions about leaving university.

“I've made a great group of friends along the way. It will be sad to not see them every day,” she said.

“The course was hard work but in the end I really feel I have benefited a lot because the skills I have learned are so applicable to the real world.”

International Office student support officer Sarah Rogers said the course completion ceremonies were an important part of life at the University.

“Because of visa constraints many international students have to return home before the formal graduation ceremony, so the completion ceremony gives them an opportunity to celebrate with fellow students,” Ms Rogers said.

There are currently 292 international students at the Riverside campus.

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