Aussie undergrads fight back against international student rort

The fallout from Monday’s Four Corners special on Australia’s international student trade continued yesterday with domestic students at Murdoch University demanding answers and claiming that the value of their degrees has been badly eroded by “underprepared” and poorly performing international students. From WA Today:

Following the program, Murdoch students and other staff said they had experienced their own “dumbing down” of course units to accommodate international students…

Another current student… said she had witnessed firsthand the “academic misconduct” claims made in the 2017 emails, which found some international students were trying to circumvent the language gap by plagiarising their assignments or contracting outside sources for help…

She said she was especially concerned her degree would be “devalued” due to the revelations, and said the university had a case to answer from students.

“How can you trust graduates who have come out of a uni that doesn’t pay attention to English and admission requirements?… Is my degree now worthless? Now, I’m scared I will have an even more difficult time finding a job than others, because of this.”

Murdoch university featured heavily in Four Corners’ expose. The university experienced a 92% increase in international student numbers between 2017 and 2018, which has led to widespread reports of plagiarism, academic misconduct, and students failing their courses.

The Grattan Institute’s Higher Education Program Director, Andrew Norton, agrees that university entry and teaching standards have been badly degraded, and pins much of the blame on the 2012 deregulation of international student visas by the former Labor Government:

Since 2012, regulation of international student visas has generally become less strict. Much of the checking on international students is done by the universities.

Official English-language requirements for a student visa have never been high. For example, one of the main English language testing organisations recommends a score of 7 on its 1-9 scale for academic courses. Yet the minimum score needed for a student visa is only 5.5

In a major student survey, in which international students made up 15% of the total sample, 33% of the students who confessed to cheating were international students…

In a parallel survey of academic staff, more than two-thirds had suspected submitted work was not written by the student. In most cases, it was their knowledge of the student’s English abilities that led to this suspicion.

So, international student pass rates could be inflated by plagiarism if it is not detected or not proved. In the Four Corners program, one academic claimed his refusal to mark work he thought was plagiarised led to his contract with the university not being renewed.

Another reason why international pass rates could be inflated is the claim of “soft marking”. A union survey in 2017 found 28% of academics agreed with the proposition: “I feel pressure to pass full-fee paying students whose work is not good enough”.

The situation is even worse than presented above. Empirical research from economist Gigi Foster, based on the records of both local and international students at the University of South Australia and UTS, found that higher numbers of international students unambiguously lowers education standards by dumbing down courses.

Specifically, Foster found that international students performed consistently worse than local students, with non-English speaking background students preforming the worst.

However, because students are typically marked according to a bell curve, international students score better when there are fewer local students in a course, since there are fewer higher performing local students to occupy the top end of the distribution.

Foster also examined tutorial performance and found that local students perform worse in tutorials with more international students.

The Four Corners expose is merely the latest in a series of reports raising the alarm about Australian universities’ unhealthy addiction to international students (e.g. here, here, here, here, here and here).

In fact, Four Corners aired a similar report in 2015, entitled “Degrees of Deception”, which also uncovered widespread cheating and plagiarism by international students at Australia’s universities, along with cases of academic misconduct and degraded education standards.

Nothing was done then, and instead international student visas were allowed to balloon by around 200,000 to half-a-million, cheered on by both the government and universities:

In the days since Four Corners report aired, the silence from both major parties has been deafening and suggests that neither side will undertake any meaningful review if elected. Instead, we will continue to hear about the mythical $32 billion of so-called education exports without any consideration of the broader costs.

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  1. As I have said previously, when a country turns education into a cash cow, and lowers it’s standards to incentivize foreign students for money, the country has truley lost it’s moral compass. Education is THE thing that grows economies and helps lift living standards. Congratulation Australia for ruining the very institutions that should be our shining light and entry to once great institutions like the CSIRO. (thanks to Tony for defunding that as much as possible) Now we sell uni degrees in how to be efficient in Uber Eats cycling.

    Fvcking pathetic country we have become.

    • Could not agree more, it’s depressing and Australia is noting but a neo-colonial backwater run by offshore interests. Let’s be honest, we have no real sovereignty when we allow the theft of resources, political system to be gamed, no productive economy, flip overvalued houses to one another, shine coal in parliament and say “Were not sinking” … We’ve become plastic Americans with the worst apathy and what’s worse our National Happiness is at an all time low. It just keeps getting worse.

      Australia | Bogans of the Pacific.

      • Well said Tim the TM. Post war, Australia spent big in the tertiary education sector, with successive Parliaments recognising the importance of a well educated youth and workforce. Education was seen as having a huge public good component and Australia’s economy was a lot more diverse than it is today. We made just about everything from clothes to golf clubs.

        We know it started when the Labor government started charging Uni students ‘fees’ for their degrees and even gave them non dischargeable debt. Yet, successive governments, both sides, have contributed to the shite we have today, so blame goes wide and deep.

        Both my sons are paying off their modest degrees, with one still in his job at the Woolies’ checkout, having been unable to convert his Business ticket into a salaried position…
        I’m not optimistic that Labor will transform the joint, as we know what happened last time…

    • Timmeh, this follows on (in my thinking) from the MB article calling for the defence of Australia a couple of weeks ago. Coupled with a pathetic election selection. We all have our moments of doubt, but since the MB call to defend Australia I’m really starting to wonder what Australia is, what it stands for, and do we have any idea what is in the national interest.

      • robert2013MEMBER

        When the state has ceased to be a nation then there is no such thing as national interest.

      • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

        “When the state has ceased to be a nation then there is no such thing as national interest.”

        Nailed it Robert.

        Australia is nothing more than an economic zone now, with it being open season on the pre-existing societies social capital.

        This is the end game of those who think you can have a multicultural society based around multiple cultures and communities shared values – yeah, right. Nobody ever seemed to ask what those shared values are, well it is pretty damn obvious now, the profit motive, rent seeking and every man for himself. Multiculturalism – this is who we are.

        And if anyone wants to know who is to blame, turn your head towards those private institutions and think tanks, that claim millions of dollars a year in tax deductions, as they help shape Govt policy and influence public opinion into accepting policies that are toxic to our underlying people and society.

    • air_murphiouse

      I totally agree with your submission, Tim. I am an international student that came to Australia due to lack of quality education, you have to be wealthy to get a good education… I am really shocked at what I’ve experienced going on in Australia universities. I have spoken openly to many of my lecturers questioning grades (which is supposed to be confidential information but the students share it out of surprise) given to students who cannot construct a simple sentence in English without numerous grammatical errors. I don’t even make use of the 30mnts for none English speaking students, I passed my IELTS with required score band to gain admission into any university in the world. My first year here was horrible as I am left to complete most of my group assignment with little assistance from other members. I had to officially report that I don’t want to get involved in any form of group assignment, but to be able to perform well in work environment, one has to learn how to deal with things like this (teamwork). Research has shown that countries struggling to move out of the underdeveloped stage to a developing stage are countries that have failed to invest in the education of their youth. My fear is, this might even discourage local youth from obtaining a university degree. I thought my arrival here is to compete with local bright students only to realise that the campus looks like I’m studying in another country different from Australia.
      The government and university management need to do something about this ugly event quickly. #My1cent

  2. The same Gigi Foster who says that rampant immigration is unambiguously good and doesn’t depress wages or amenity of natives Because Demand?

    • DominicMEMBER

      “… rampant immigration is unambiguously good and doesn’t depress wages…”

      It’s a statement that doesn’t stand up to theoretical or empirical scrutiny so it is little more than a “progressive” mantra.

      Repeat it enough times and it becomes “truth”. If you look back in history arrogance and hubris on this scale leads to revolt. Not peaceful either.

  3. robert2013MEMBER

    Australian undergrads murmur about international student rorts when prompted by slightly politically incorrect journalist. Wake me up when the fighting starts.

  4. Mylifeforaiur

    Part of the problem is today’s youth doesn’t have the inclination or gumption to launch mass walkouts and protests like students from a few generations ago. Too distracted by their i-devices and social media to give two hoots. Where are the pitchforks and ropes? There should be rolling nationwide student walkouts on this issue until resolved.

    • Even StevenMEMBER

      They say they were removing the toxic masculinity from us. But actually, it was removing our backbone.

    • DominicMEMBER

      Don’t despair. Abject poverty will soon shake things up.

      The world moves in cycles: the current phase of decadence and hedonism is just coming to an end. The obesity problem will be a distant memory soon.

    • JaduongMEMBER

      Exactly, I am always telling my children that they should be more revolting….

    • Any students who did walk out or stage a protest would be immediately branded as racists, with the consequent damage to their careers and standing in the community. The huge expansion of the university system that cannot be funded without international students also serves another purpose – to disguise youth unemployment in the domestic population, by tricking large numbers of young people into wasting several years studying for worthless degrees, only to be saddled with enormous debt when they finally do get work.

      I would like to see a smaller, more selective university system, backed up by world-class colleges of advanced education and technical colleges. This means reversing the Dawkins reforms. There should be a maximum of 10% international students at the undergraduate level, and they should have to meet the same standards as domestic students. There should be no automatic work rights after graduation. None of this is going to happen, of course, so long as the sheep keep voting for the major parties.

      • Absolutely agree, with both points.
        On the internal social control of the students
        – racism allegations
        – cultural appropriation, which is now a vast crime ( one of mine couldn’t wear a turban to a fancy dress!)
        – sexism amd male aggression allegations ,to an extraordinary level.
        It’s at a crazy level,particularly if you are male.
        And add to that the guilt shaming if you are seen eating meat! A lot of uni catering( both official and social) is vegan,without any options.
        And l agree with all other points made.

  5. If undergrads were really fighting back they would me marching in the streets. Todays younger generation are such a bunch of soft cox. Pussies the lot of em.

    • Mylifeforaiur

      They’re too busy hiding in their safe spaces checking the latest Insta posts from their network to catch up on all the fun they’re missing out on.

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      They can’t be seen to be racialist after all. Probably all followers of the demography nutcase.

      • I’m offended that you’ve assumed hareeba’s gender. I made a report to the Diversity Police, and they’ll be around to see you shortly.

    • I think HECS killed the old school student activism. a Uni student is a bit like an indebted mortgage slave – they are owned.

  6. Do we now need a Local Student Associations for our universities to galvanise and lobby for change (beyond useless and unfocussed Student Unions), just like there are various International Student Associations lobbying?

  7. I am an international student in one of the Western Australia university. Fact most university student population is made up of 95% international students and the remaining 5% is made up of Aussies, English is not and will never be a measure of ones intelligence , most international students communicate that is speak and write in more than 4 languages while most local students can only speak one language, Running a school with limited number of students is simply unsustainable. Fact most locals don’t pursue higher education.

    • If you think the argument is being made by anybody anywhere that English language ability is related to intelligence then either you don’t understand English or you don’t have the intellectual capacity to study at university level. In either case, you should withdraw from your studies and go home now.

      And nobody gives a rats arse how many languages you or your mates speak. This is Australia, where we speak English and the classes are (or should be) in English. If students can only speak fractured English then they shouldn’t be in the class.

      Fact most locals don’t pursue higher education.

      Fact. Lol. yeah, right.

      Is it just me, or is the astroturf flourishing here today?

      • it’s a fresh batch after the last lot got canned for being utterly mediocre.

  8. Oh!? A class action on the way from the local customers?

    hehehehe…. let’s see if the VCs and the BDs are up to their tasks…..