Chinese CCP mouthpiece lashes Australian student trade

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.


  1. GunnamattaMEMBER

    Before we can ‘know’ anything we probably need to have a parliament which can plausibly be able to acknowledge phenomena happening in wider society, preferably with a government in some semblance of policy control, explaining and relating to the punterariat where we are all heading, through the media channels of the day.

    Australia has none of that. It has a parliament welded to avoiding the key single issue in China – Australia relations. Australia’s economic strait jacket (its sole reliance on commodity exports to China), which leads to Australia’s desperation for a population ponzi (to juice aggregate stats) ……..Two issues central to the China – Australia nexus right there which our politicians simply refuse to look at, talk about, acknowledge etc.

    That leads straight onto the infrastructure overloading, the house prices, the trashed education sector, the coolies working in our service sector etc etc etc.

    Also worth noting are some of the Indian government comments in the wake of talk about cutting down on temporary visas. (though the Chinese have a far more extensive and sophisticated network of local and im ported talent orchestrating their message and influence here)

    Australia has made itself a patsy – both sides of politics are party to that. They are still making Australia a patsy. As long as foreign nations (particularly those whom we rely on for selling our commodity exports) see that we cant be honest with ourselves, and cannot face doing the economic hard yards then they fairly naturally will assume that we can be dishonest with ourselves their way, and that economic pain is the tool du jour to prompt appropriate behaviours.

    The only way out of this is for a government to state enough is enough, to state we are going to have some economic pain (yes house prices will fall – but the upside to that is that enough people are already in enough economic pain for that message to be a case of simply stating the obvious [although this is where it becomes class war because it is the leveraged and affluent who are telling themselves that things are fine as they are]) and start rebuilding the economy on some sort of competitive basis.

    We arent within a bulls roar of any of that. We still have both sides of mainstream politics bullshitting around acknowledging that (and further ridiculing themselves before the Australian public, and the Chinese in doing so).

    …….and of course all of that is before we get to our media. Australia has, without a doubt, the worst media in the English speaking workld, the worst media in the developed world, and a media which would be overtly identifiable for its flaws in Zimbabwe or Uzbekistan. The Chinese can see this (and recognise it against a backdrop of it confirming their ideological beliefs about capitalist media – because Australia’s media is a classic case study of being financially desperate, being quite keen to provide a ‘happy ending’ for anyone paying for advertising, and enthusiastic about bullshitting Australians on a daily basis, and it is concentrated into the hands of Uncle Rupert [about as corrupt and deformed as a media can be] and Fairfax [right onside with anything which sells more houses, and a lap dog for neo liberalism] before you get to government [for China views on take a peek at their State TV].

    Of course the Chinese know what they’re doing. This is straight from the playbook anyone going within a bulls roar of the top of Chinese society knows by heart

    • I know that Aussies don’t want to hear this, but it’s our problem not China’s problem.
      We need China far more than China needs Australia.
      We need their students
      We need their Iron ore, Coal and LPG demand
      We need their positive cashflow to support our deficits
      We need their Investment to support mine development and buoy asset prices
      We need China.

      Now Imagine an Australian workforce that generated positive global cashflow from their knowledge and skills. A place somewhat like Singapore, ask yourself how much influence China would have if we didn’t need their students. if we didn’t need to sell minerals to them, if we didn’t need china to buy our over priced assets because they simply weren’t for sale.
      Aussies need to change their mindset they need to loose the idea that they’ve somehow gotten something for free because they borrowed money or sold public assets to to support the purchase of private trinkets. Until this day comes we’ll continue to do our masters bidding and naturally our politicians will continue to bow politely and tug their forelocks when addressing their new paymaster.

      • We need their students
        We need their Iron ore, Coal and LPG demand

        A place somewhat like Singapore, ask yourself how much influence China would have if we didn’t need their students. if we didn’t need to sell minerals to them,

        Wrong verb – replace ‘need’ with ‘are addicted to’.
        What we actually need to do is end our addiction to China. However, we probably aren’t in a position to go cold turkey – an entire nation can’t just shut itself in a room with three buckets until all the poison’s gone – we need to plan a managed withdrawal program, that also takes into account our cross-addiction to immigration (can’t practically go cold turkey on that one either – need to steadily reduce NOM while rebuilding our school education capability, in order to end our dependence on the overseas governments who train 30% of our new workplace entrants each year for us)

      • We don’t need China.
        Only 10 years ago Japan was still our largest trading partner. We were doing great then.
        There will be a period of adjustment, just like there was when the UK went into the EU in the 1970s. Australia diversified in response and moved forward. that would be the case again.

        The damage of avoiding this adjustment will be much greater than dealing with the short term pain of meeting it head on.

  2. That’s actually fairly mild by GT standards. I read a far worse piece from them about US universities a couple of days ago, though clearly both them and Xinhua are making some effort to dissuade Chinese students from choosing to study overseas.

  3. On this occasion the Global Times is right. Australian Universities are a shameful scammy bunch.

    UNSW is one of the worst.

  4. Chinese students in Sydney are encouraged to take over the Universities they attend by the CCP.

    ‘Panda Warriors’ won and had eight candidates elected to the Syndey UNI Student Representative Council at elections.
    Panda Warriors are demand:
    – Discounted fees for International students
    – Concession fares on public transport
    – Multi-lingual support for housing, academic, and tenancy.
    – University closes on Chinese New Year week

    • United front activities are at all levels of government and society.
      Universities are a key target.

    • Given their list of demands, I suspect they are going to discover exactly how much influence student politicians have past the door to the little office the university gives them to keep them out of the way.

    • Panda Warriors can demand all they want about those issues, but concession fares aren’t the responsibility of the University!

      • … exactly why they are asking for it. Any conciliatory move from the gov will play out in the universities as a way to save face. It will be interpreted (correctly) as our elites going head down arse up for the chinese.

  5. Not quite sure what the GT author wants – the solution to every point they bring up seems to be to reduce Chinese student numbers by around 90%, which is also the inevitable outcome if those problems aren’t addressed.

    • Reducing Chinese student numbers by 90% would be a great outcome. We should be focusing on quality, not quantity. Those who came in a small cohort would have much better interaction with non-Chinese society and would have the cachet and overseas networks to enhance their careers. Universities would maintain their standards and the prestige attached to their names.

      • As I alluded to, there is virtually no way forward that doesn’t see a big drop.
        – Births in China fell nearly 14% between 1996 and 2016, so essentially a 14% drop in student numbers over the next twenty years
        – As the above articles both attest, there are huge concerns in China around the quality and worth of an Australian tertiary education
        – Other Western countries, such as the USA, have realised Chinese students are a gold mine worth working, have entered the market, and have much better offerings than we could ever dream of in that space.
        – The Chinese government doesn’t like seeing Chinese uni spaces going to waste, and is trying to stop the trend towards O/S education (as you alluded to above).

        We’ve either seen the peak or will do so very soon.

      • Absolutely 100%

        But here is the context….
        Did you know the VC of University of Sydney makes something like 1.4 million? I think pretty much all of them are > 1 million.
        That says all you need to know about the ‘values’, and corrupting influence, of large numbers of international students.

      • “”Reducing Chinese student numbers by 90% would be a great outcome.””

        This is not going to happen any time soon … the upper echelons of University management will tell you that much of what has transpired with the influx of international students is due to progressive cuts in University funding from both of the major parties.

      • @prometheus,

        We won’t cut, but that doesn’t mean that cuts won’t come from Chinese side. In fact, it’s almost certain that they will.

      • You said, “Those who came in a small cohort would have much better interaction with non-Chinese society”

        Yes. When I first came to Sydney, I stayed in a CBD hostel until I found a place. One of my roommates was a girl from Hong Kong on her first trip to Australia, who came to check out a few Australian universities. After checking out a few in Sydney, her verdict was: “I liked Melbourne better. Sydney is just like China, and if I wanted to study in China, I wouldn’t be looking at schools in Australia.”

        [ This was in 2012. It’s only become more true since then. ]

      • “We won’t cut, but that doesn’t mean that cuts won’t come from Chinese side. In fact, it’s almost certain that they will.”

        Which means that Universities will allocate even MORE resources towards their bullshit marketing aimed at enticing the international student dollar.

      • They can market all they want – there’s no replacement for China, so it will be pushing on a string (or pushing something up hill).

      • They don’t seem to understand that the more fee paying students they enrol, the more the government will reduce their funding. How can they explain that despite the hundreds of thousands of fee paying students, fees for Australian students have to keep rising? Wasn’t the idea that they would cross subsidize our education? Of course it doesn’t work like that, the government will just turn around and say, great your self-sufficient, you don’t need our help.

      • Also; the gradual reduction in government funding of Universities by both major political parties has barely registered a blip on the radar of the vast majority of voters.
        A big proportion of voters has no idea of what goes on in Universities.
        They even think that staff are on holidays when students are on holidays which is rather amusing when the academic year at a typical upper tier “sandstone” University is two semesters of about 12 teaching weeks with about 3-4 weeks of exams at the end of each semester (after a week of “swotvac”).

  6. The problem is that you have a LNP government focussed on cutting funding to universities making them ever more reliant on the income they generate from overseas students.

    • “Thank you” cards, chocolates, other tokens of appreciation etc., can be forwarded to John Winston Howard and Amanda Vanstone (as Howard’s first education minister).

  7. adelaide_economistMEMBER

    Just another example of where Chinese policy is going to correct the awful Australian political inaction on a pressing domestic issue. So far i include crackdowns on housing investment, adani, money laundering and now the international student scam. The problem of course being that when the tide goes out on the Chinese driven bubble on everything there’s not going to be much left other than a whole pile of rubble where once reasonably functional institutions and industry once stood.

    • As elastic identifies above, this is not ‘inaction’ – this is very deliberate action over a prolonged period, whereby the Liberals have let nothing stand in their way of their ideological dream of the death of government funded education. Getting close now.

    • Who ever would have guessed the black swan of foreign political donations was the thing to bring the great Aussie Ponzi scheme of debt to its knees?

      The Chinese are going to pull the rug out from our shitty little economy in retaliation

  8. I thought Chinese students came here to study because it was a fast track immigration queue and they could buy property. Isn’t that the point of it. Who cares about the ones forced back to China. If they were not smart enough to jump the queue and buy property they are obviously not smart enough to hire for a job. Also why did that student change University because they failed one subject? Seems fishy to me. More likely they had to change for some other reason so something is not being said there.

    • There’s about 600k international students in Australia (including 50k newly enrolled Chinese last year), versus about 30k sales of houses to foreigners annually – and not all of the foreigners buying houses are students or Chinese.
      There are huge numbers of students here who are here for something other than property in a system that has been designed so that a marginal fall in O/S student numbers will see unis collapsing.

  9. “The field of international education, which is worth AUD 21.8 billion, has become Australia’s third largest export market.”
    No. That’s not an ‘export’.
    That old hoary estimate is based on the total onshore expenditure on accommodation, food & education and that all the money for that was ‘bought in’ & any locally earned income was negligible.

    But the facts are that the entire temporary visa category ‘input’ into Australia of 2.1 million TR visa holders only bring in $4.5 billion as ‘declared funds’.
    And that’s often faked. Self declared or the money put there by the agent procurers then taken out after getting into the country. The entire TR visa category then form a mostly illegal $106 billion onshore sub economy & xfer or remit some $36 billion put to their agent procurers-loan sharks & families offshore.
    $4.5 billion in, $36 billion out – $31.5 billion negative.
    -2% GDP impact. (Not adding the impact of lowered wages, no tax paid working illegally, Australian unemployment, congestion & other additional negatives).

    The student visa category is within the TR above.
    That is is some 360,000 primary applicants in ‘declared funds’ of $2.8 billion – typically being initial course fees and as said ‘declared funds’ – self declared or money is placed in an account by the loan shark or agent procurer or via a ‘sponsor’ / then taken out again and never checked once the person is onshore for often years. In addition to this is wide spread Fake secondary ‘partners’ (who can work) plus visa churn between student /visitor/bridging/other categories in getting access & staying in Australia to work illegally.

    These 360,000 direct student holders can be viewed to form a $22 billion onshore sub economy in ‘activity’ – but the income for that onshore expenditure is mostly illegally gained onshore income.

    And this visa category then remit or xfer back some $6-7 billion of that out of the country in agent procurer debt repayment or remittances. (World Bank 2016).

    So the international student onshore category is also economically negative – the money to sustain it is mostly earned here – and a proportion of it goes out as agent procurers loan or remittance payments.

    Sure the Fake colleges & institutes all make money from it / they are ticket clipping to provide the visa alibi.
    But overall to Australia it the entire international education industry is highly socially destructive & economically negative.

    The simple test is how many international students would come here if they could not work at all.
    Eg they had to be fully funded for 4 years in all living and fees costs from money brought in.

    The answer is less than 35,000. 10%.

    90% of these international students are only here to work, to get a PR on a visa pretext with the sham colleges & Unis etc clipping the ticket as the visa alibi along the way.