A fortnight ago, the Victorian Government called for a review of entry requirements into Australian universities after growing evidence had emerged that foreign students with poor English language proficiency are badly eroding education standards and placing undue strain on lecturers and university staff.
This was immediately followed by academics admitting to Fairfax that they had lowered teaching standards and passed failing international students in order to maintain the foreign student trade.
Now, the international student association has called for greater regulation of overseas migration agents amid widespread cheating on English tests to gain access to Australian universities. From The ABC:
The test is taken before a student is granted a visa and accepted into a tertiary education institution.
The ABC spoke to one international student, Maria Shumusti, who said she knew at least five students who had cheated.
Ms Sharmusti was previously the public relations officer with Council of International Students Australia.
Australian Federation of International Students former president, Pratik Ambani, also suspected some students were guilty of cheating and believed it was a common practice overseas.
“There are some cities in particular countries where students prefer to go where you can pay a couple thousand dollars and get someone else to sit your test,” Mr Pratik said.
“The people managing the test get bribed a big amount and that’s where they let this pass.”
He said the students were often admitted into difficult courses they could not pass…
“I’ve seen a lot of students walk up to a migration agent and say ‘I want to go to Australia, I don’t know which course, which university, just send me’.
“Many of those students who are coming with that mindset, their main intention is to work and work cash jobs and earn as much as they can.”
A national survey last year found students with English as a second language were more likely to cheat on their tests and assignments…
Over the past year, news stories have referred to universities using international students as ‘cash cows’ and allowing them to continue in courses they could not complete…
The Migration Institute of Australia… [said] “It’s a problem that’s been persistent for this long, it really is a shocking situation.”
Is anyone surprised by this? Australia’s universities have morphed from “higher learning” to “higher earning”, as evidenced by the massive explosion in full fee-paying foreign students:
Australia’s education system has become an integral part of the immigration industry and the ‘Big Australia’ population ponzi – effectively a way for foreigners to buy backdoor permanent residency to Australia.
After all, the lobby group representing foreign students in Australia – the Council for International Students in Australia (CISA) – point blank admitted that students come here to migrate, not because of the quality of education on offer:
The Council for International Students in Australia said foreign potential students were attracted to Australia by the possibility of migrating here.
But Mr Dutton’s strong views on border policy and his statement that Australia should reduce its intake of migrants “where we believe it is in our national interest” would tip the balance for some would-be students…
The national president of CISA, Bijay Sapkota, said… “For people coming from low socio-economic backgrounds there has to be a value proposition. If they go home they will not get value. So there has to be a possibility of immigration.”
He said international students were not satisfied with the way Mr Dutton had run the immigration portfolio, where some visas were at risk of being closed down at any time…
It’s not like these concerns haven’t been raised before. Three recent Australian reports (here, here and here) have similarly raised the alarm about the flood of international students and the degradation of standards, but have been all but ignored and attacked by the rent-seeking Universities Australia.
Dr Cameron Murray – an economics lecturer at the University of Queensland – has also highlighted the problem in detail, which matches the academics’ experience above:
A thread on my experience:
1. 90% of students in my economics masters classes are international.
2. Half of them struggle with basic English
3. When I ask in tutorials why they are doing the degree, half tell me that they “need more points for their residency visa” (1/n)
4. They tell me they choose economics because they can do the maths but don’t need to understand anything or write anything.
5. I always set written essays or reports. Students tell me that they know other students are using paid ‘essay writing’ services to pass my class (2/n)
6. If half the class can’t understand English it brings down standards. It must—unless I fail half the class.
7. Think about the incentives—a casual lecturer who costs $25,000 fails 50 students paying $250,000. Change lecturer next year or reduce intake to keep standards? (3/n)
8. It is frustrating when top international students from foreign governments/central banks come to your class, then sit next to rich Chinese (almost always Chinese) who can’t understand a word and are there to buy a visa (4/n)
9. The evidence shows the effect on standards is real. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S027277571200028310
None of this is a secret. That research is from 2011. Here’s an article from 2014: https://www.smh.com.au/education/academics-accuse-universities-of-addiction-to-international-students-and-their-cheating-20141112-11lbdi.html
10. Unfortunately, this reality conflicts with the widely believed myth that our immigration program brings in “high skilled” workers.
11. 350,000 international students paying $25,000+ per year to study is $9billion being pumped through our top dozen universities. (6/n)
12. Halving the number of international students would keep all the good students, boost standards for all, and remove the visa scams.
13. But this would remove $4.5billion per year of revenue to the universities. (7/n)
14. In sum, universities are being degraded so they can be used as a back-door immigration program, and no one at the senior levels of universities or major political parties want to change it.
15. It is nearly career suicide for younger academics to say anything about it (8/8)
I forgot to add that almost every student I failed or called out for plagiarism got second and third chances until they passed. After the first chance it is taken out of my hands to higher ups at the faculty…
There is nothing new in this thread.
@4corners did a big investigation a few years ago. Nothing changed AFAIK. People are just used to the new reality. https://economics.com.au/2015/04/17/universities-corruption-and-standards-its-not-just-academic-anymore/
More here: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/free-ride-past-language-barrier/news-story/9082a4d2234f019af2ddd1f68be73a8f and here: https://economics.com.au/2011/03/16/are-we-going-easy-on-foreign-students-in-order-to-get-more-revenue/
The sad reality is that Australia’s universities are little more than giant rent-seeking businesses, just like the superannuation industry.
Rather than clipping the ticket on the deluge of funds coming in via compulsory superannuation, the universities sector instead clips the ticket on the deluge of foreign students arriving in the hope of transitioning to permanent residency.
Instead of focusing on providing a high quality education and upskilling Australia’s population, the universities sector has become focussed on pushing through as many students as possible in order to maximise fees and profit. Again, this has parallels to the superannuation industry, whose focus is on maximising funds under management and fees, rather than achieving strong returns for members.
The end result has been the dumbing-down of standards and too many university graduates chasing too few professional jobs.
The main beneficiaries from Australia’s rent-seeking university system are the vice-chancellors, whose pay has exploded to an average of $1 million on the back of the student flood, at the same time as university students are stuck paying off expensive and increasingly worthless degrees, taxpayers are stuck writing-off unpayable debts, and the broader population is suffering under the never-ending population crush.
Policymakers must put a leash on the university sector, starting with removing the link between foreign students studying at university and gaining work visas and permanent residency. Let Australia’s universities compete on quality and value alone, not as a pathway to backdoor migration.