Higher education has become a key Australian visa rort pathway

By Leith van Onselen

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. 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.

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  1. When I go to any aust uni now aussies are definitely in a minority and are an afterthought to the uni
    Nothing will change
    Baby boomers have had their fill so tough luck to the next generation

  2. GunnamattaMEMBER

    Over the weekend i have had migrants with suspect english complain that their Uni and TAFE classes are chock full of people who have worse English than they do and say that when they complain to lecturers that these slow down progress get the response that there is nothing can be done.

    • Interesting thing about this story is it is overseas students complaining about the standards of overseas students. Probably why the ABC feels able to publish it, if it was someone else it would be “racist”.

      • My wife & her friend, both had Englsh as a second language, complained about this at uni, nothing done.

      • When somebody stands between you and making pot loads of money, smear them in any way you can.

        ‘Racist’ is a good start.

      • LOL. I think you’ll find “communist”, “socialist”, “statist” and “leftist” are the usual epithets aimed at people standing in the way of pots of money.

    • have you ever seen a foreign student graduate from a local MBA program who has jumped at an admin job?

  3. At least under Trump, the USA is doing something about this. Set up a fake university and arrest student recruiters and “students.”
    Indians, believe it or not.

    “Eight student recruiters were charged with participating in a conspiracy to help at least 600 foreign citizens stay in the U.S. illegally, according to the indictments, which describe a novel investigation that dates to 2015 but intensified one month into President Donald Trump’s tenure as part of a broader crackdown on illegal immigration.”


    If our lot ever caught up with a fake student, they would tell them how to appeal their deportation (using a taxpayer funded lawyer), and hand them a Medicare card.

  4. Have had first hand experience with useless incomprehensible indian grad students being used for tutoring university subjects.

  5. Weird when u go to an American uni to see the majority of students there are American. I have been so conditioned to seeing our unis flooded with internationals I didnt know any different.

  6. Linda Lovelace 3

    What good is the permanent residency and eventual citizenship if these people dont end up with the means to be able to support themselves medium to long term. Unless they are super rich they too are going too have to jostle for scare jobs alongside locals. With their poor english skills and purchased degrees they are going to have to compete with local kids for their first job. Hate to say it but the vast number of these foreign students are being duped with an illusion that Australia is the land of milk and honey for eveyone wanting to migrate here …

    • With free access to WhatsApp, and given we are looking at over a decade now that we have had a surge in Indian students, if it really was a bad option for the Indian students, surely the word would have gone out by now?

      They know what they are getting themselves into. To make it work for them, they have no qualms in working cash in hand, doing dodgies to get ahead in their work (real estate, recruitment, setting up businesses to rort other Indians), getting as much out of the middle-class welfare we offer them, hire their own (and rip off their own) and ensuring they get their family over here as well.

      I have no sympathy for the recent batches that have come out here.

    • Mmmmm …. I’m not so sure. Free education for children, (largely) free healthcare and a state pension to look forward to. Even if you’re stuck in a dead-end 7-Eleven job it might be better than trying to scrounge a living in some filthy slum back home.

      • John Howards Bowling Coach

        You’re kidding yourself. No one coming here from India is from a slum, they are all coming from at least middle class as the lowest level.

      • @JH
        Everything’s relative, mate. Middle class over there would still be considered a slum over here (or perhaps I should have said, by my standards)


  7. I attended a Go8 university in the late 90s. The shift was starting then. Perhaps with the exception of ANU, I would not encourage a young person to attend a Go8 university today unless they had no other option. I think top Australian talent will increasingly turn to US, UK or European universities for undergraduate education. They are being “crowded out” at home by what has now become little more than a visa migration racket dressed up as higher education.

  8. And it took a state Labor government to raise the latest alarm about this herd of elephants in the room? My my, things really must be getting bad if they are now starting to pay attention……that said I guess Labor can get away with it more easily than the Libs because they are less likely to be called “racist” by the MSM (and plus the Libs are utterly lost and rudderless right now but that’s a separate conversation). An overhaul of the university visa shambles is long overdue – right now our universities are serving everyone BUT Australia and Australians, on every front.

    • strange Economics

      Well the previous labor state leader John Brumby just left to be Chancellor of La Trobe. Sounds like a good job so someone is getting some benefit.

      • John Howards Bowling Coach

        Exactly. Brumby is a treasonous creature who has been a lacky for the Chinese Government for years already. He’s going to continue the gravy train working for the best interest of foreigners as he knows nothing else. I’ve met him recently and he’s so far into the pocket of the Chinese Government he can’t see daylight

  9. At the airport,

    Customs and Immigration procedures are a waste of taxpayer funds and my valuable duty free shopping and wet my whistle bar time.

    Just build a bridge from Asia to Australia without speed limits so that the velocity of vibrancy goes vertical.

  10. Universities wouldn’t need to rely on foreign students if they were operated with greater efficiency (and I don’t mean reducing contact hours). There is a surplus of middle-management jobs and ‘airy fairy’ functions that add no value to the university or students.

    But University executives build their empires instead, to get the staff headcount up to justify their obscene salaries.

    Get rid off education pathways to residency and greater efficiency will have to be undertaken by Universities, and the greater economy as well.

  11. Is there a National Local Tertiary Students Union?

    We need to have this and ensure we have an Australian-born person of non-Anglo background to head it up to offset outcries of rac1sm.

  12. I did some calculations on the number of international students per capita for OECD countries in 2016.

    Not adjusted for population, USA had the greatest number (24% of total number of international students) followed by UK (12% from memory) with Australia in a close 3rd. (9%). This year, Aust is predicted to pass UK and be 2nd.

    Per capita
    Aust was a clear winner, with NZ 2nd
    Aust and NZ were the only countries with international students making up more than 1% of population.
    Daylight was 3rd and 4th.
    USA was a long way back in the field.

    I would put up the table if I knew how to post it.

    • Hi, firstly – if you go to Australia education gov snapshots – they have charts tables & stats you can refer to.
      The comparison to other countries isn’t just the numbers but also the condition of entry (COE) and the scale of visa fraud and social impact.

      Australia has 672,000 foreign students & partners they are across a range of visa categories. (Not all are on just the ‘international student visa category’ & the ‘partners’ who have full work rights btw are rarely included but are secondary visa grants on the primary foreign student visa.

      => 2.7% of Australian pop.
      Up to 16 X some OECD countries.

      The intake is shocking – the vast majority are of third world origin, unskilled, poor.
      The progression is shocking – only 3.9% ever progress to a highly paid professional vocation in their field of study in either Australia or their home country.
      (Migrant pathways A decade on report 2015)

      Our global education ranking has fallen 10 places globally..

      What’s unique & bad about Australia’s foreign student industry isn’t just the numbers or very low intake quantity but the characteristics of the program as well.

      They only bring in some $2.3 billion in funds (mostly self declared or heavily frauded – bank statement or paid off sponser never checked again).
      Unlike say UK, US, China or other countries that force full upfront payments, much higher level genuine education, shorter visa durations, no partners, and very limited or no work rights.

      They do pay some $8.2 billion in fees. (Deloitte Access Economics study).
      The much touted $32 billion ‘export’ is actually their onshore GDP activity (672,000 foreign students x $49k each in ‘economic activity’.

      The point is the vast bulk of their money is EARNED here. Not an ‘export’ at all.

      And much of it earned illegally. In visa breach.
      75% work illegally (Sydney Uni & UTS studies) and that’s in addition to any partial work rights.
      That’s 504,000 Australian jobs stolen.
      That alone is a negative $9.2 billion in unemployment benefits cost impact.

      So the cost of unemployed Australians alone is greater than the entire foreign student industry fees paid.

      Then add on lower wages for all other Australians, congestion, housing impact, degraded education & many other impacts and the entire foreign student industry is tens of billions negative to Australia in economic & social impact.

      90% of foreign students & partners are in Sydney & Melbourne.
      Many stay 6-9 years in visa churn & course extension until they get the PR basically.
      Only 53,000 would be considered genuine higher education post graduate foreign students by most other country standards.

      We need a Royal Commission into the entire visa racketeering industry – including the foreign students.

  13. The game of ‘join the dots’ turned into ‘join the rorts’.

    The international full-fee student “market” rort enabled dodgy institutions to support the visa agent rort through a deregulated ‘mass immigration’ ‘points’ rort pathway that creates demand for the flammable concrete dogs box rort that plugs into the over-development and debt rort and cheap labour rort.

    Behind all this are politicians (ALP included) who embrace the fire sale of Australian sovereignty and amenity and somehow manage to keep a straight face when they call this “the service economy”.

    Sally McInsanity of the ACTU is also part of the rort as her members get to build the dog boxes and tilt up concrete pig pens to house the people scamming visas and driving down the value of an Australian education as they are crammed into our cities. She’s part of the problem, not the solution. Sally McInsanity is a fully paid up member of the rorting, snorting and cavorting club.

  14. https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/residents-of-spencer-street-tower-that-caught-fire-will-be-locked-out-for-days-20190205-p50vtf.html

    Long term international students – one who has apparently been here for more than 4 years already. 10 to an apartment. She sleeping on a floor.

    “Ms Al Hamhami, who studies at Swinburne University, said she and three other international students who also live in the tower had been sleeping on the floor in the lounge room of their friend’s apartment nearby.”

    That sounds odd. So this lady and 3 friends have live in an apartment in the same building. But they were all sleeping on the floor of another apartment. At 5:30 on a Monday morning before heading off to University. Really?

    • 1. The true scale of the migrant housing fraud.
      2. How to break the migrant housing subletting cash in hand business model.

      Firstly it is very common, 2 bed unit : 6 bunks in the master room, 4 bunks in the second room, some even sleeping in the bottom of the sliding door wardrobe, a couple sleeping in the lounge on mattresses.

      $160-$180 a week each in the bunk, bag of rice, toioet roll & wifi deal. 3 rice cookers & 3 gas cartridge camping stove cookers.

      Most of the occupants are very poor migrant guestworkers brought in to work illegally / vice / blackmarket on a TR pretext – or now increasingly on a tourist visitor pretext.

      Say 8 migrant guestworkers in small modest 2 bed unit or a small modest western suburbs established house.
      8 x $160 a week = $1,280 a week cash.
      All cash in hand sublet, via a lead tenant transient name & an ethnic aligned real estate agent.
      A ‘live in manager’ often the PR migrant used to buy the unit in washing the foreign syndicate dirty money but not on the lease who lets them in as they can’t all have a room key.
      Only $500 a week – the minimal rent or a legal occupancy is declared. The other $780 is taken as undeclared cash. The PR ‘owner’ claiming negative gearing as a kicker. The PR migrant proxy owner often gets a bunk as well, takes a cut & all the rest goes back to the foreign syndicate washing in the dirty money for this cash in hand goldmine.

      Any problems?
      The PR migrant owner (not on the lease) blames the real estate agent.
      The real estate agent then blames the transient lead tenant (fake name or long gone).
      Wait a while.
      Do it all over again.
      Why any attempted prosecutions fail.
      World Tower, The Regis, The Summit, The Luminare, almost every building in the city west, Broadway, most of Sydney in a vast swath from say Mascot, Zetland, inner south west, inner west, Ashfield, Rhodes. Burwood, Strathfield, Auburn, Granville, Parramatta, Penrith & out to Campbelltown.

      2.2 million migrant TR in Australia
      (672,000 foreign students & partners)
      90% rent in ‘private shared accommodation’
      In Sydney, Melbourne, other urban centres.
      Plus another 440,000 third world migrant guestworkers on tourist/visitor visas (5% of the 8.8 million tourist visitors yearly – ABF estimate to parliamentary enquiry)

      That’s 2.4 million migrant guestworkers renting in private shared accommodation..
      Third world
      Pretext visa
      Living week to week
      Working illegally
      Repaying agent procurer debt & sending back remittances. Only here to be willing participants on visa fraud & work & live illegally.

      At 8 per dwelling or 2.75 times normal occupancy usage.
      At 2.4 million and using a much more conservative 6 per dwelling – that’s at least 400,000 ‘Ex Australian’ modest dwellings now occupied by migrant guestworkers alone.

      Paying some $20 billion plus cash in hand for a bunk share.
      But only $10 billion (legal occupancy / market tent) being declared.
      There is your ‘housing bubble’
      There is your 116,000 Australian homeless and the other 340,000 who can’t get affordable housing.

      Evicted & dumped on the street to make way for migrant cram bunk share / cash in hand subletting.
      2. To break the migrant cash in hand subletting business model needs:
      ▪️National non resident Identification & accomodation registration & tracking system.
      ▪️Where they live & rent paid, and to who.
      ▪️Police, Fire & Safety & Council authority.
      ▪️An ATO crackdown on the migrant cash in hand accommodation market & tax avoidance.
      It’s being going on for a decade so it’s $100 billion or more in aggregated cash income / no tax paid & false negative gearing claims.

      ▪️Massive showcase building by building and suburb by suburb (as now it’s moved to small modest ex Australian housing in the suburbs) crackdowns.

      ▪️Seizure of these dwellings – many bought by the foreign criminal syndicates on behalf by the migrant proxy with no apparent income, in lieu of the billions of dollars of undeclared cash income they didn’t declare. Those properties returned back to house our homeless & those seeking affordable accommodation.
      Visa cancellation of those found living illegally, not on a lease, they will invariably be working illegally in the black market or vice. willing participants in visa fraud.
      ▪️No negative gearing claims by migrant PR in investment rentals, with back payment of the billions looted from the Australian taxpayer subsidizing all of this.

  15. John Howards Bowling Coach

    If you do a search for people around you on the Chinese WeChat App in Melbourne during uni semester you can find many people listed selling uni assignments. The Chinese are so mercantile they nakedly monetise everything and cheat at uni here is the norm.

    • Cheating is universal. I did a masters degree at a London Uni and I’d say fully 50% of the class was nakedly cheating during exams — either copying straight off bits of paper or taking multiple bathroom breaks. The guys on my course were mainly from a certain Mediterranean country (ahem) but there was a Lebanese guy and a German (!) FFS who all thought cheating was a perfectly acceptable part of the deal. Their attitude was: I paid $25,000 for this course so I’m going to be awarded my certificate. (Actually ‘Daddy’ had paid so perhaps the pressure was greater, I don’t know).

      I think it’s just a reflection of society’s moral decay and it’s just got heaps worse over recent years.

  16. Chancellor of UNSW is David Gonski, also the chairman of ANZ bank and biggest lender to Harry Triguboff.

    The banks have corrupted everything.

  17. https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/sydney-s-stretched-rail-network-in-store-for-900m-in-new-trains-20190206-p50w1l.html

    You just couldn’t make this stuff up.

    Hundreds of thousands of overseas students – approx 200,000 in NSW. Many working illegally, not paying tax, depressing wages, and sending money back home. From an economic perspective, this industry is as much an import as an export – it may even be a net import overall.

    We need $900M of new trains for our rapidly increasing population. Which we buy from China.

    200,000 less people in Sydney, and public transport and the roads would work much better.