The economic saber-rattling goes on as we take the thoroughly reprehensible step of banning foreign bribes in Parliament. Via The CCP mouthpiece Global Times:
With a growing number of Chinese students going to study in Australia, many Australian universities are becoming financially dependent on international students. The field of international education, which is worth AUD 21.8 billion, has become Australia’s third largest export market. This has in turn affected and changed the way that Australian universities are run.
It is hard to tell how deep this influence is, but some believe Australian universities have lowered their academic standards in order to obtain more enrolment and make it easier for Chinese students to pass university exams.
If Chinese students’ English score does not meet the Australian universities requirements, they will be encouraged to go to the language school run by the university. Although the tuition fee is normally much higher there than at other non-university-run language schools, it inevitably gives them a better chance at being accepted later on.
The influx of Chinese overseas students into Australia has notably impacted the local business market. More Chinese restaurants have opened up to satisfy demands of Chinese students searching for their home cuisine. Also, to help pay off student loans, many students start up a daigou (part-time retail consultant) business. It is estimated that last year there were 40,000 daigou in Australia, with the industry worth AUD 7.9 million. Many Australian brands such as UGG and Swisse have benefited greatly from this industry.
If you go to Sydney’s most famous shopping mall, Queen Victoria Building, you can feel that sales workers are particularly welcoming to Chinese-looking customers compared to locals.
Through being a daigou, some students are too busy shopping to study, so they hire a ghostwriter, or exam substitute, to help them complete their degree. Many Australian universities are still unaware of this trend, and even if they were, they do not seem to be taking sufficient measures to address it.
Although many Chinese students come to Australia for education and cultural exchange, they rarely engage with Australian society. Instead, Chinese students in Australia live in a “parallel society.” It is true that Chinese students do not make enough efforts to integrate themselves into the culture. However, it requires a lot of confidence and courage to make friends with Australian students, and get involved in local social events.
Have Australian universities done much to help Chinese students regarding cultural exchange? Not really. I rarely hear professors or lecturers helping them to understand Australian culture or purposely mix them with local students in a class. I was told that many lecturers are only hired contract to contract, thus their main concern is where their next job will be. How can they really take on these responsibilities for international students? There is no interest, nor benefit.
Most Australian students are very friendly, but there is not so much initiative by them to make international friends outside of their own friends’ circle. Furthermore, they do not have much interest in China, and would most often learn of China via the Australian media through stories of air pollution, or about alleged human rights issues. Their response is basically “sure, let’s hang out,” but they never call back.
I recently read of a critical voice in Australian media talking about how Chinese students may be spies in Australia or how their responses regarding Chinese sovereignty are “harsh,” “well-organized” and “heavily publicized.” This made me laugh. Is Australia a country with freedom of speech as claimed? Why can’t people express their opinion freely? If you want to maintain an environment of academic freedom that your students deserve, you should allow everyone to voice their opinion and respect that.
For those Australian professors who do have some knowledge of China, they would understand that there are many reasons why Chinese students support their government. Chinese students grew up under the educational and cultural system ruled by the Communist Party. They were educated to be patriotic and to think and believe as the Chinese government does. That they politically support the Chinese government does not equate them to being spies.
Chinese students come to your country to study critical thinking and how to be open-minded. It is not Australia’s place to critique student’s political standpoints. You cannot expect Chinese students to think or behave the same as Australian students. If their thinking and horizons have been broadened through obtaining an Australian degree, then Australian universities can be considered as having done a good job.
I heard news that an Australian professor was afraid that Chinese students in Australia might attack students who had different opinions to them. I cannot verify or comment on this information, however, all I know is that it does not seem that Australian universities are doing enough when it comes to stopping people putting up signs in Chinese on campus that say things such as “Chinese students are not allowed in the building otherwise they will be deported.”
I sincerely advise Australian universities to pay more attention to their quality of education and stop treating Chinese students as a cash machine. Some of them are spending their parents’ whole lifesaving to come to Australia to study. Are you providing enough knowledge and opportunities for them in return?
The major objection to Chinese student activities on campus has been the pursuit by some to silence other voices not the other way around.
As for dropping standards, you bet. From The Brisbane Times recently:
The plight of a Chinese student whose parents sold their home to pay for an Australian university education but only found a job handing out product samples has sparked debate in China questioning the value of overseas education.
The worsening job prospects for graduates returning to China could send a chill through Australia’s third largest export market – international education – which is worth $21.8 billion annually, Australian trade officials have told Fairfax Media…
“Lin” was under huge pressure to succeed at Monash University after her parents sold their home for 1.2 million Chinese yuan ($A230,000) to afford the university fees, a Hangzhou newspaper reported…
She changed universities after failing a subject, and spent two million yuan over six years studying finance in Australia before returning this year. Back in China she struggled to find a low-level job paying just 5000 yuan a month.
Amid a wave of stories about disillusioned Chinese students returning from overseas, and social media debate, the official People’s Daily published an editorial saying returnees may be “incompatible to domestic society”. The risk of studying abroad was getting bigger because it did not guarantee a good job, the editorial said.
A survey of 150,000 Chinese overseas students found on average that they make only 500 Chinese yuan ($100) more per month than Chinese university graduates.
One Chinese social media user, commenting on Lin’s story, wrote that his friend had spent 2 million yuan studying in Australia since high school, but the family would have made a better investment buying two apartments because the rentals would exceed his salary…
The NSW Auditor General has identified a financial risk to NSW universities if overseas student intakes fall, because almost a quarter of university revenue comes from international student fees. Monash University, where Lin studied, earned $652 million from overseas student fees last year, up 23 per cent from the previous year.
But in China, failure stories are resonating because there are many more examples out there, says Director of the Australia China Alumni Association in Beijing, Ben Newman.
“It is no longer as ‘gold collar’ as it used to be. Students coming back are facing a lot of problems,” he says…
“The foreign degree isn’t the edge it used to be,” says Australian National University’s China liaison director, Amanda Barry.
“The big employers in China go around job fairs of the top Chinese universities and can fill their graduate intake – they don’t need foreign graduates”…
Australia’s universities have become dependent financially upon foreign students. And the need to attract, year in and year out, huge numbers of foreign students has impacted on the prestige-value of an Australian qualification in the international market-place.
University standards have also dropped in a bid to keep student numbers (and profits) flowing. There is continuous pressure not to be too demanding on foreign students when it comes to language skills, and if possible, to pass low performing students as they undertake their courses (similar factors are also at play with domestic students).
The above factors are compounded by increasing competition from universities abroad (and within China) as their standards improve. Arguably, it is getting harder to attract the best students from China, who are more likely to study at home (or elsewhere).
Arguably, both nations would benefit if the trade were wound back, as some individual unis have already done, from last year:
Australia’s top-ranked global university is moving to lower its proportion of Chinese international students, a group it describes as “dominating” international student numbers.
Documents unearthed in a freedom of information request reveal the Australian National University has since 2015 quietly implemented a “diversification strategy” in an attempt to lower its share of Chinese enrolments.
ANU has the largest proportion of Chinese students in the Group of Eight universities. Over 60 per cent of its commencing international undergraduate enrolments were from China in 2016.
…There was a need to “mitigate potential risk exposure in the event of market downturn,” Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington is recorded as saying in the minutes of a February 2016 ANU Council meeting.
…Several issues involving pro-Beijing Chinese students at ANU have made the news this year, including an incident where the head of a Chinese student group allegedly bullied a campus pharmacy workerover displaying the Falun Gong-linked paper The Epoch Times in the shop.
Chinese dissident and ANU maths student Wu Lebao told theAustralian Financial Review he was forced to move out of a flat he sublet from fellow Chinese students after they discovered his political views. A Chinese PhD student at ANU drew attention for creating a pro-Communist party nationalist video that went viral online.