International student debacle is privatisation gone wrong

By Leith van Onselen

Last night’s Four Corners special on Australia’s booming international student trade exposed a tertiary education system riddled with rorts, with universities lowering entry standards to push through as many full-fee paying students as possible to maximise profits.

Among the most damning revelations was that some universities have waived their own English entry requirements. This followed 2016 reforms by the Coalition Government, which effectively deregulated entry by granting universities responsibility for ensuring international students possessed the requisite skills.

Former immigration department official, Andrew Durston, claimed that these 2016 reforms effectively automated entry, meaning that international student applications could be “assessed within minutes” without having “to provide financial capacity documents or English capability test results”. As a result, “the tolerance level is too low” and “there are students who are being granted visas who haven’t actually undertaken an English language test”.

The segment also featured the president of the Association of Australian Education Representatives in India, Ravi Lochan Singh, who claimed that some students are manipulating the automated system in order to obtain a visa:

“They have come into Australia using a university which had lower checks — lower GTE (Genuine Temporary Entrant) check, I’m talking about — which did not require an English test, and have managed to come here on a visa”…

“In recent years, we’ve had students with very poor English landing up in Australia, which wouldn’t have happened earlier had there been a human element in the visa process”.

Several academics were featured, who noted increasing numbers of misconduct cases in some courses. They also shared stories of international students using mobile phone applications to translate university lectures, and even IT students unable to operate a computer.

As expected, there was buck passing between the university sector and the federal government.

Universities Australia denied wrongdoing and defended the cash cow, arguing that they “have high standards”, that international students “pass successfully at about the same rate as domestic students”, and claiming “the Government is ultimately responsible for the issuing of visas”.

In response, the Department of Home Affairs claimed that “universities are responsible for ensuring the students they enrol have the language skills to participate fully in their education”.

Ross Gittins yesterday described the situation as a problem of “defacto privatisation”, whereby “governments of both persuasions had gone for years trying to get the universities off the budget books”, in turn giving universities “unrestricted power to charge overseas students”. In turn, vice chancellors have become “as money-obsessed as any company chief executive… slashing entry requirements and cramming in as many more under-qualified undergrads as they could”. The end result, according to Gittins, is that universities have “gone too close to turning undergrad teaching into a money-making sausage machine, where you have to be really dumb not to pass”.

Gittins believes a “comprehensive inquiry is needed”, something MacroBusiness has also advocated.

As we argued yesterday, the incoming federal government must use the Four Corners report as an opportunity to stare down the rent-seeking university sector and order a broad-based review into the costs and benefits of the international student trade by the Productivity Commission.

The next government must take stock before the issue mushrooms further out of control.

[email protected]

Unconventional Economist


  1. All that is because an import has been relabelled an export.

    Another relabelling: wage rises have been relabelled skills shortages.

    This is a nation that relabels long established facts as fantasy.

    That 4 Corners episode in 2015 is when I first found out that foreign students actually cheat on exams to get in! That is when I changed my mind on mass immigration. I actually wanted AUS to have 50 million people! Because I was stupid enough to think that demand = fundability. I used to think man landed on the moon because USA had more taxpayers than USSR.

    But even before 2015, I realised that it is not the number of taxpayers that funds great missions, but the amount of money a government has. Governments can simply get money by taxing the export of LNG. By that measure, Norway has a greater ability to land man on Mars than any large nation. How many people does Norway have? 5.25 million.

    • “All that is because an import has been relabelled an export. Another relabelling: wage rises have been relabelled skills shortages.”


      We live in Orwellian times and all to serve the vested interests at the big end of town. But our economy is now dependent on this system so that any disruption to it will cause a financial and economic crash. Actually, that is what we really need, a short and very sharp shock so we can rebuild a real economy from the ground up instead continuing this steady course to an Argentine future. Maybe it’s too late already.

      • haha, very good MD but why the hurry? We can talk of Caracas after we reach Buenos Aires. Enjoy the long, slow cruise. We’re in for interesting times.

    • wage rises have desire to pay lower wages has been relabelled skills shortages

      Fixed that for you.

    • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

      Where has the relabelling come from Jacob? What has changed in the past 50years – because once upon a time, a mere 50yrs ago Australia was renown for having some of the strongest instiutions in the world, so what or who has changed?

      Whose culture assigns the meaning behind the words we use? Whose values determine which ideas are put forward as solutions to societies problems?

      Culture maters.

      • Stewie, I am reluctant to comment on culture. I am honoured to be allowed to continue commenting while others have been banned.

        I got banned from for saying “there was no hospital in AUS before 1788”!

        Leith and David face an uphill battle as it is – without having to face a barrage of accusations about culture.

        Soaring unemployment, a lack of school ovals, demolition of lovely old buildings, are big enough reasons to slash immigration.

        Regarding the grandparent visa, I would say that British kids do not really live with British grandparents. Grandkids living with grandparents is a thing in you know where. We can get immigrants from NZ and Britain and they will not demand that their 80 year old parents be allowed to come over with them!

  2. University academia in Australia is, for all practical purposes, run by a corporate class of managers and administrators who are a highly paid form of institutional cancer.

    They metastasised and infected the organs of the tertiary sector as a consequence of ideological changes called the ‘Dawkins reforms’ that saw business “ethics” applied to tertiary education complete with the usual commercial board of governance. New reward structures based upon financial goals, rather than academic achievement, incentivised bad behaviour and saw the erosion of institutional integrity in exactly the same way that has happened in every other case where a ‘free market’ ideology had been inflicted upon public institutions.

    After setting up boards and new incentives to run tertiary institutions a culture of managerialism replaced academic independence. The political neoliberal game plan then did what it always does – it cut funding to universities in the name of creating efficient “competition” in places once off limits to markets as the competition of ideas has nothing to do with money! Once again, we’ve just seen what this produces; a race to the bottom and the gutting of institutional integrity with significant national and individual cost.

    Generations of Australian tax payers built the university system, yet once more, ‘profit’ has been sought without regards for integrity or morality by a band of neoliberal clowns who pillage and show contempt for the basic public trust they should serve.

    The blame for this goes way back.

    Under the Hawke government, Dawkins set up a culture that rewarded bad behaviour in the tertiary sector in the very same way that it corrupts financial institutions. The very same neoliberal ideology pays university presidents and CEOs obscene amounts for overseeing the destruction of academic integrity and allows money to be milked from ‘clients’ based upon prior standing and power to manipulate perception.

    In effect, our universities lie to domestic and international students about their primary duty. It is clearly no longer academic integrity but the business of making money to serve a pathetic ideological focus. Hence, our universities are run by bean counters who have turned them into commercial fiefdoms where academic integrity is no longer welcome.

    …of course, management will be the first to reject such a claim and roll out the PR clap trap that every academic knows is a lie kept in place by intimidation, job insecurity and blackmail.

    The politicians responsible for this Australian university ‘business’ culture are worthy of our utter contempt. They did the same job on our universities as they did on the Murray-Darling – they sold off the life blood of a nation for the sake of a failed political ideology and a few bucks directed to their mates.

    • ChristopherJ

      thank you, Clive, yes the blame does go way back to the 80s imo.
      That’s when Aussies started paying fees for a degree and the international students started to arrive.
      When you take humans out of the assessment process, people are going to cheat.
      Going to be hard to clean up 40 years of the wrong direction

    • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

      The University academia are cut from the same cloth as the 4 Corners reports who did this entire expose – moralising wankers who cannot connect or associate the issues like neoliberalism with other cultural values that they have been indoctrinated into supporting.

      I had to leave the room before the expose finished when it became apparent that the ABC were going to blame the farce in our University system on Uni Administrators and the profit motive, and barely even give lip service to the immoral bipartisan Govt population ponzi supported by both major parties that facilitated and encouraged this entire debacle.

      It is once again worth reiterating the value set that combined to make this possible – Multiculturalism and Neoliberalism. Both of these social policies are necessary preconditions for what is going on here, neither would be tolerated without the support each of these gives to each other, and the associated weakening of common national and social values, which would otherwise resist the debasement of our common social capital.

      The values that allow the debasement of our society stems from a Cultural Idea that there are no Australians, our society is only a collection of people of different cultures living together – it emerges from the same Cultural values that values Individualism above Interdependence and stretches back over 4,000 years, and which the Baby Boomers adopted or were indoctrinated with as “Self over Society.”

      Culturally the values propagated by this type of thought leadership has exactly the same impact as Termites devouring a house, it eats away at the structures of a society. It is from this cultural value set that Neoliberalism and Multiculturalism has emerged, which places all responsibility for an Individual on the Individual.

      Consequently common social institutions like our schools, hospitals and universities either are transformed into profit centres or fail, as the collective sacrifice required to sustain them is removed:

      “Without meaning, people won’t be motivated to solve the other challenges our species faces.”

      Australia’s Universities are no longer OUR Universities, they are profit centres for individuals to attend in order to improve their individual income earning potential, they’re no longer centres for transferring OUR society and cultures knowledge from one generation to the next, but a resource to be exploited.

      This is the end game that progressives are cheering for, the dissolution of Australian society and culture into a shared economic zone, where no values are superior to any others. But guess what, you can’t have strong institutions that require common sacrifice because no one wishes to work and sacrifice to help sustain institutions that work to project values and principals into the future that are not culturally aligned with their own.

      You cannot have strong institutions that depend on strong common shared values and sacrifice, in a society filled with competing values and self interest.

      Multiculturalism does not give rise to shared meaning, it simply dissolves all meaning from a society.

      • great post, the report only paid lip service to the overseas student visa program being nothing more than a pathway to permanent residency. It was actually the Indian education agent who stated it was used as a ‘back door’ for migration purposes, but as you have quite rightly pointed out, the people at the ABC are cut from the same cloth as those at the Universities.

      • Great post. This election campaign reminds me of Oscar Wild – policy that dare not speak its name. Both parties have colluded to impose massive social and demographic change on us without our consent and refuse to even speak about it. Then they wonder why people say they feel betrayed by politicians and politics and vote for ‘extreme parties’. Extreme being parties that represent the will of the people.

      • Spot on, Stewie.

        For instance, take this article from Sami Shah on the ‘privilege’ of white Australians:

        The projection here is quite something. Imagine if I were to write an article about POC in similar terms? But, according to this worldview racism = power + prejudice.

        So, according to his logic, he can write (what is to me) an inflammatory, race-baiting article since he doesn’t have any ‘power’ despite the fact he’s a breakfast radio host on the national broadcaster and I’m just some anonymous keyboard warrior posting on a blog site. Work that one out.

        This appears to me to be nothing more than engaging in a form of gas-lighting Austalia’s dominant societal/cultural group, and then blaming those types of folks that are reacting negatively to it.

        Of course there are always going to be some goons that are going to tee off with racist comments in response to his stuff. But there’s a whole lot more people who don’t take too well to being guilt-tripped by a self-appointed member of the high caste of self-enlightened superior-minded globally-oriented post-national progressives that dominate our media airwaves.

        Consider the long-term implications of this type of discourse on Australian society: Here’s a bloke who migrated here five years ago, who now wants to go around expressing faux-concern for the sometimes hostile reaction his views/politics provoke. And then he has the gall to play the victim, because he’s part of an ‘oppressed minority’. It’s all BS.

        I wonder, what is his allegiance to this country? Why did he move here? Does he identify as ‘Australian’? (Whatever that means since these days it seems to have been reduced to nothing more than cricket, footy, lamingtons and vegemites – that’s what the State MP described as ‘Australian’ at my wife’s citizenship ceremony last week) Is it for him to integrate/assimilate into Australia or, rather, are Australians expected to integrate to his 21st century progressive ‘sensibilities’?

        Let me be clear: Sami Shah has treated Australia like an ATM. He chose to come here. No one compelled to come here. He wasn’t escaping war. He sought a better life for him and his family. Fair enough – good luck to him.

        But to come here, and then bemoan that there are some ‘racists’ out there is ridiculous. What did he think Australia was – a post-racial utopia made up of rootless cosmopolitan individuals like himself? Where’s his sense of gratitude? The sense of entitlement is strong in this piece.

        He appears to not have much respect, understanding or empathy (there’s that KEY word he used – because remember, he’s the empathetic guy) for the people who were already living here. For those who built this country.

        He is, in effect, a cultural colonist.

        And this is the paradox of the progressive ‘left’ – they’re anti-colonialism but colonialists as long as it’s against what they see as the dominant ‘white group’ that must be displaced.

        Ok, good luck to them. But can you build a stable, prosperous, socially-cohesive society underpinned by the foundation of multiculturalism and diversity? Can he point me to an example where this has worked, long-term?

        Let’s look at diverse Singapore – the Government has to enforce racial quotas in newly-built apartment buildings to stop ethno-cultural-traditional balkanisation that would otherwise organically take place.

        So then, as Australia becomes more diverse how does Sami propose we ‘keep the peace’ and ensure broader public support for the public goods that keep our societies functioning – the schools, the health system, the ABC? You know, the very taxpayer funded institution upon which he draws his salary.

        I suspect he’d like nothing more than to be appointed as one of the Government’s ‘multicultural commissioners as a sort of soft cultural-commissar who stands ready to enforce 21st century global homogeneity upon sceptics such as myself. And it would be for my own good, of course.

        In short, he’s a charlatan. A post-modern anti-Australia fraud.

        And yet progressive types such such as himself – blinded by the light of their own virtue – then wonder why it is that right-wing/traditionalist parties that emphasise the importance of custom, tradition, culture and a sense of home and place are on the rise.

        As far as I’m concerned, folks like him can fark off or, better yet, jump the pond and join Jacinda’s happy dance.

      • @Bjorn1788 nails it concerning the recent ABC article where Sami Shah rants on the ‘privilege’ of white Australians:

        “In short, he’s a charlatan. A post-modern anti-Australia fraud.

        And yet progressive types such such as himself – blinded by the light of their own virtue – then wonder why it is that right-wing/traditionalist parties that emphasise the importance of custom, tradition, culture and a sense of home and place are on the rise.”

        It’s incredible that such people can’t see that they are barking at the boogie man they have created – or is a better metaphor that of a mad dog chasing its own tail? Clearly it is racism in the name of opposing racism. It is illiberalism in the name of liberalism and intolerance badged as a call for tolerance.

        Sami Shah, this is about culture. If I go to Pakistan and rant against the religious theocracy of brown people I end up dead. If you come here and rant against ‘white people’ you end up a pariah.

        It is not for the colour of your skin that people will dislike you but for your hypocrisy and failure to recognise that Australia shall determine the values of its own culture. His is thinly disguised hate of Australian culture and very clearly sets out to undermine basic freedoms of expression and norms that are absent in his country of birth. One wonders if his criticism of Australia is a psychological consequence of knowing that Pakistani culture is a true tyranny that he turned his back on, having no stomach to address real bigotry and savage totalitarianism.

        Because the bottom line is that Sami Shah ran away from all that as an economic refugee who now feels the weight of guilt that all cowards must live with – to distract from this he takes it out on the country that gave him a better life.

      • @Clive

        “It’s incredible that such people can’t see that they are barking at the boogie man they have created – or is a better metaphor that of a mad dog chasing its own tail? Clearly it is racism in the name of opposing racism. It is illiberalism in the name of liberalism and intolerance badged as a call for tolerance.”

        Bingo. The psychological projection of these folks is what does my head in.

      • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

        Hi Bjorn after trying to post the same comment 4 times and successively editing it down to get it past the filter (the last post actually made it past the filter but was still subsequently deleted) I’ve given up.

        I agree he is a cultural colonist, a cuckoo feeding off our social capital, but the cultural aspect is more galling. He has moved to Australia and gets to simultaneously criticise the values and people that built this nation, while celebrating his “Indianness” every day, as though that somehow makes him more Australian than the people living here.

        This is one of my core issues with Multiculturalism as it is being inflicted executed in Australia. the dominant majority are compelled to reject their ethnicity and become rootless, culturally detached cosmopolitans, while minorities ‘stick proudly’ to their faith and culture. This contradiction – between urging majority groups to disown their identity and minorities to cling to theirs – lies at the heart of multiculturalism.

        So while the likes of Sami, Nyugen and those mentioned in the article are given carte blanche to take a dump on any notion of “Australianness” that doesn’t fit the progressive definition, existing Australians are locked out of this conversation by being denied the right of response or even allowed to rebut these views, by being belittled as racist and refused access to our media.

        Mark Latham’s lament (and the same with Sustainable Australia’s complaints) over being repeatedly denied access to ABC policy discussions on subjects such as immigration and diversity being a case in point.

      • Hi Stewie, thanks for replying.

        Completely agreed – it’s galling to see how minority groups are given free reign to express their identity, yet the assertion of a broader cohesive ‘Australian’ identity for migrants to assimilate into is considered ‘racist’.

        And thus Australia is what ever you want it to be, rendered nothing more than an abstract economic grid, an empty international airport terminal in which individuals, and specifically minorities, are given public funding to project their own version of Australian identity. And far be it for the dominant Anglo-European Australian to assert our identity as is our birthright, since that would be ‘unfair’ and ‘divisive’.

        Logically, this nonsense makes no sense, as you’ve pointed out time and time again.

        However (as you know) we need to understand multiculturalism not as a logically coherent ideology but an instrument of group evolutionary strategy.

        What a legacy Walter Lippmann has left us..

      • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

        “an instrument of group evolutionary strategy.”

        It is indeed – if more people were aware of who Walter Lippman was, his role in lobbying for the adoption of Multiculturalism and the real reason he was advocating for it (to maintain his cultural distinctiveness and separateness from the nation he moved to), than no reasonable person would support it.

    • GunnamattaMEMBER


      In the days when Hawke decided to introduce HECS with the wormtongue Dawkins in his ear the debate inside the ALP government was this……..’If, 12 years after Whitlam had removed fees, it was still mainly the sons of the nicer end of town going to University, and almost solely the nicer end of town filling higher level corporate and public sector management, and the income differential of having one degree was so marked – then why are the taxes of ordinary working types paying for that advantage?

      I did not agree with that logic, and was one of a fairly small group of people who put together data amply demonstrating that the earnings dovidend of having a degree had diminished sharply (this was about 89 or so) and would diminish further, and that the reintroduction of fees would still see the uber set pay in advance (and write off the costs) and leave the sons and daughters of the working end of town more likely to end up majorly in debt for a lifetime with the earnings advantage of their degrees diminished.

      Dawkins got what we said. But the politics of it went the other way. It was an ill fated night out at the old Footscray Institute when Dawkins people gave us a chance to put our case. From somewhere a batch of Socialist Workers had got wind of his presence and before long there was protest, smashed windows, and a police horse knocked over a girl. Dawkins was ashen faced when he entered the room and bleakly asserted that the demonstration had put paid to any chance of shaping the reform, and that students were going to have to pay. Dawkins later became Keatings Treasurer, and never forgot. He drove the university sector into the corporate model. He certainly knew that the State governments of the time were going to face further issues funding TAFE. It was a wave of Liberal state governments which drove the private education provider model, though succeeding governments never revisited the model. The Universities almost all created ‘private’ side businesses which they pitched to foreign students. I recall being told by someone on top of Melbourne University Private in the late 90s that they knew then that all their students were looking at courses with a view to citizenship. A driver i knew at MUP told me whenever the students went anywhere they would ask him about real estate. Every university and most TAFEs went this route, many set up offshore joint campuses to progress students – in nearly every case what was found was that the joint offshore campus became a conduit for spectacular corruption.

      By this stage former university and TAFE administrators and academics were being replaced with ‘management’ and short term contracts. Management was only after the dollars, and had no problem with all the rest being a facade.

      Australian tertiary and vocational education has in the years since become about the worlds most expensive, coupled with an ever diminished intellectual rigor.

      The disaster of Australian education has been a long time in the making. And those who have shaped the disaster still remain hooked onto their prey – having recently seen the Deakin vice Chancellor in public with Richard Marles and Chris Bowen i wouldnt hold out high hopes for the incoming government.

      • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

        Hawke decided to introduce HECS with the wormtongue Dawkins in his ear the debate inside the ALP government was this……..’If, 12 years after Whitlam had removed fees, it was still mainly the sons of the nicer end of town going to University, and almost solely the nicer end of town filling higher level corporate and public sector management, and the income differential of having one degree was so marked – then why are the taxes of ordinary working types paying for that advantage?

        Great comment Gunna, it reminds me of this comment the other day in Zero Hedge:

        ”If you have a Bachelor degree, you earn on average 65 percent more than someone who doesn’t have one. If you have a Master’s degree, 100 percent more over the course of your lifetime. So nothing is free. Like a free lunch? No. Neither is college,” Maher said.

        “Somebody will be paying for this free college and it will be taxpayers, so are we really saying that someone who didn’t go to college should be subsidizing the people who went and got the benefit from going to college and made more money?”

        Under the Australia’s previous cultural hegemony it was societies benefit where the policy decisions were made, NOT the individual. The fact someone might have received a scholarship or had the Govt pay for their education was irrelevant – why? Because the higher income that an individual would earn as a result of their college education would be repaid via the higher life time taxes they would pay in respect to a progressive taxation system.

        But by placing the individual at the centre of the decision making process this becomes a problem – what if you are an individual who has the potential to earn a high income without ever going to college?

        The truth is that under the “Society First” system those who are actually doing the cross subsidising for education aren’t the poor, but people who are initially wealthy and don’t need to go to University in order to secure access to higher incomes.

        The interesting aspect to consider in relation to this is the fact when you start considering this information in the light of population group IQs and inherited wealth across generations. Studies have shown that inter-generational wealth is best preserved across generations by families that maintain relatively higher IQs to the median population – the rule ‘Shirt Sleaves to Shirt Sleaves in 3 generations” is the rule of mean reversion for both wealth and IQ.

        So the concept of “Free Education” is really only a problem of ‘unfairness’ when you apply the lens to specific population groups that may generally have higher median IQs than the larger population median.

        If you are from a low median population IQ group and happen to be particularly bright, then Free Education will make an enormous impact on your life, with a high likelihood of you repaying it through higher taxes. If you are from a higher median population IQ group then Free Education is less likely to be of benefit to yourself, because i) you will already be bright, ii) you will already be likely to have access to higher inherited wealth, AND iii) Your cultural in-group will already be more likely to have their own institutes to transfer knowledge within the group.

        Here is a link to the relationship between IQ and Income:

        Here is a link to ethnic groups in the US with higher incomes:

        In a Multicultural society with different layers of IQ and hence median earning ability, public education becomes a form of social and cultural cross subsidisation, from those who were born with the privilege of higher median IQs to those cultural or ethnic groups with out. The temptation that will exist at every level of a stratified multicultural society will be to ‘punch down’ and resist cross subsidising value sets that don’t belong to your own.

        Self interest in the behaviour of in-groups will ensure that cross subsidisation will be resisted when it will result in the betterment of a different groups abilities to project themselves and their values into the future.

      • Ronin8317MEMBER

        The introduction of HECS makes the budget number looks better, which was the major focus back then.

        It wasn’t such a bad thing when it first started as it was only 1.8k. However, the government start cutting funding to our university and shift more and more onto the students, and our universities start raising fee to make more money as well. So an art degree now cost 20k, studying medicine cost 60k. Without a cap on the number of places, maximizing revenue become the goal, and the cart is now pulling the horse.

      • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

        “The introduction of HECS makes the budget number looks better, which was the major focus back then.

        It wasn’t such a bad thing when it first started as it was only 1.8k. However, the government start cutting funding to our university and shift more and more onto the students”

        All invasions start with a beach head.

        The introduction of HECS and Foreign students was the beach head that started the cultural transformation of our Universities from facilitating the internal transfer of our knowledge and culture from one generation to the next, into profit centres that privatise returns from the sum of our existing cultural and social capital.

        A similar beach head is now occurring in our Primary and Secondary public education system, with the introduction of foreign fee paying students and sly voluntary co-payments (parents will be under pressure to make these payments, as inevitably if they don’t, their child will be disadvantaged). It will be a tougher Nut to crack that our Tertiary education system, due to the longer and more ingrained cultural values that the majority of our population has towards the benefits of a public education system, but make no mistake, exactly the same forces are at work here – Introduce Fee paying students to public education, continue to defund public education and give them greater freedom to raise funds from fee payers.

        Combined this with Multiculturalism and a high level of immigration and it won’t be long before the wealthy higher IQ segments of the population, with no cultural affiliation with the masses who they’re paying to educate, start baying for public education to start paying their own way, while sending their own kids to be privately educated…. in fact this has been going on for some time, but as we become more diverse these calls will only grow louder.

    • “Generations of Australian tax payers built the university system, yet once more, ‘profit’ has been sought without regards for integrity or morality by a band of neoliberal clowns who pillage and show contempt for the basic public trust they should serve.”

      Great comment and applies to just about every piece of social infrastructure we have.

  3. run to the hillsMEMBER

    Four Corners should do an expose on the vocational training schools which cater to international students, I personally know students of SE Asian backgrounds enrolled in these totally fake schools purely as a means to stay in the country and work cash in hand jobs. And then there are the dodgy migration agents and the VCAT appeals process which is absolutely rorted. Poster MikeMB’s contribution to this forum may look over the top or exaggerated but he’s spot on from my experience, there is a massive black economy in Australia supported by the gaming of visas, particularly in education.

    • Four corners are doing a three-part expose, last night was part one and they will be reporting on the rorts in the VET sector.

  4. reusachtigeMEMBER

    I watched this rubbish last night and quite frankly I don’t give a sh1t except that I want my hour or so back to use it for far more entertaining exercises. If some povvo curry wants to pay to come to our unis who cares if he can’t speak English. The most important thing is that it helps make our universities profitable and I cannot think of anything more important than that in our society.

      • darklydrawlMEMBER

        More likely He’ll be on his way home from one of all night relations parties… 🙂

    • These students never go back, they’re simply here to obtain a migration outcome, hence why you should care.

  5. triageMEMBER

    Bragging that a relatively modest, unremarkable nation like Australia has the second biggest education export industry in the world is as dumb as bragging about the local unremarkable kid who starts driving around in a ferrari. It just does not make sense, something is obviously amiss. It should be a matter of concern, not pride.

  6. SweeperMEMBER

    Like everything wrong with this country this dates back to Keating.

    Channeling his inner Friedman and Thatcher Keating once said:

    “There is no such thing… as “free” education, someone has to pay”.

    What a great mind… and so began the repudiation of Menzies to Whitlam and the move under Keating disasterism under the Dawkins reforms of tertiary education to a self regulated user pays system geared towards mass vocational teaching and away from research and a quality higher liberal education.

  7. Tassie TomMEMBER

    UE I think you have to take some of the credit for 4 Corners running this investigation as you’ve been calling it out for years.

    As a lover and believer of science it breaks my heart to see our universities gutted and the scientific processes corrupted, for example by working “in partnership with industry”, and as a believer in egalitarianism I hate to see the dumbing down of the one chance that those born to humble beginnings have of significantly improving their economic rank – a quality, affordable, accessible education.

    Congratulations again UE.

    • The dumbing down isn’t the biggest problem for egalitarianism. It’s that “Australians from humble beginnings” now have to complete with foreigners for the same jobs, skilled or not.

      • But this dumbing down is an essential part to let those responsible off the hook.

        All they will need to do is to say; “nobody could have seen this coming” and just like that, they can move onto the next rort.

  8. ‘Privatization gone wrong’
    I think that’s a misrepresentation. The path to permanent residency is front and centre the issue. Without that, Australia could only sell tertiary education places on the strength of excellence. PR for all and sundry is a policy issue — nothing to do with the private sector whatsoever.

    • Yep. We are not talking about Bond Uni but the taxpayer funded ones.

      They are simply a division of government. Besides, the private sector imports 457 visa and pays them $10/hour wages. So the private sector does not even want foreign “students”.

      • That’s not quite true. The private sector relies heavily on the same PR policy to sell degrees.

    • The art of the Strayan rort is to pretend embracing a free market while preventing a market from functioning freely. I mean, just look at the Strayan housing market – opening gates and land zoning will do the trick.

      Then, when something goes wrong, you can blame the faceless market for failing to self-correct by itself.

      Nobody could have seen this coming!!

      • Yup, every time you hear the claim “failure of free markets” you know for certain you’re in the presence of dazzling ignorance.

    • “The path to permanent residency is front and centre the issue.”

      That’s it Dominic, take away the pathway to permanent residency and work rights, the treacherous government uses to propel the overseas Third World ‘student’ trade, the numbers will plummet, we’ll soon see just how desirable our tertiary sector is to overseas students.
      At the end of their course all oversea students must immediately return to their country. This is the way it used to be

  9. That ugly academic Margaret who couldn’t even comb her hair was a piece of work…disgusted

  10. Haha I bet a good percentage of Senior Management have no idea how to use a PC either 🙂

  11. Seriously Why look for the problem in the Universities when everyone knows the real problem lies with the attachment of Permanent Residency to university graduation (or probably just attendance)
    So what is this, the enquiry we’re having when we’re not having an enquiry!
    Our university standards are falling for all manner of reasons not the least being that the traditional Professions (things like Law, Medicine, Engineering, Architecture and Theology) just don’t generate the incomes that they once did, they’re just not that important anymore. So rather than asking why this is so? what has happened to devalue these “worthwhile” degrees? we’re instead fixated on improving the English of foreign Tertiary education students engaged in degrees in Underwater-Basket-Weaving. Like who gives a flying F?…ah but there’s the answer again it’s the Permanent Residency attached that has us worried.

    • Is this the case in Singapore? Japan? South Korea? Germany? Switzerland? Denmark? etc? or does it rellect the problems specific to Australia and smilar countries given the policies they have pursued for decades.

      • Hard to generalize except to say that expertise supporting Productive ventures tend to be better remunerated in countries where these ventures are highly valued (for either social, cultural or economic reasons).
        In countries like South Korea and Taiwan a Semiconductor Engineer will live a very good life, have the pick of girls to marry (in the doctor/lawyer western sense). Similarly in Singapore a businessman that understands technology is highly prized for their ability to direct capital and organize labour (all in a way Productive undertakings)
        In Germany the value of traditional professional skills is far more Cultural than the pay packet would necessarily reflect.
        Can’t really say much about Switzerland or Denmark because I’ve never really lived in either country but generally I find social attitudes in both of these countries fairly consistent with German mores. (Although that said wrt Switzerland so much depends on exactly which canton you’re talking about).
        I suspect that we are increasingly rewarding BS over real productive jobs and as happens, the system rewards us with more of whatever it is that we deferentially value….no surprises there …but it is worth keeping in mind when you try to impose a value judgement on the education process especially at a Tertiary level.

    • kiwikarynMEMBER

      It is a simple fix.
      1. Abolish permanent visas being granted and send all graduates home (like the UK does), from there they can apply to get back into the country via the normal skilled shortages list (assume for the sake of argument its a real list)
      2. Abolish the right to work while studying and require proof of finances (money in the bank) sufficient to support a student while they are studying.
      3. Raise degree standards and fail non-performing students at second and third year. The influx of fee paying students at first or second year would be unaffected, and Universities would still be free to milk their cash cows.

      • Hmmm …sounds so simple But do we (average Aussies ) necessarily profit from said policies?
        I suspect the best solutions will be found when the market forces are aligned with the Politics to have our Tertiary sector deliver skills that enable our country to truly be Productive. But that of course suggests that Productivity is both valued and virtuous, Now unfortunately if our form of Social organization is to move more towards an MMT style system than we have to forget this process of rewarding Productivity and agree to reward something else …but that raises the question: Can everyone in the world abandon Productivity as our guiding organizational force. And what happens when Country A abandons Productivity and Country B peruses Productivity…it leads to traditional Mercantilism …and we all know how this story goes.

  12. Ha, remove the path to permanent residency for Intl students and we will see just how ‘world class’ and ‘vibrant’ our education export sector is……

    • PassingInterest

      Yes, this is exactly correct. I can guarantee you our “world beating” education export sector would wither and die without the prospect of students gaining permanent residency. The providers themselves know this… they know what they are selling. As for the rest of us, we are just being sold out.

    • kiwikarynMEMBER

      The sad thing is, is that if truly smart and talented foreign students were to attend Australian Universities on the basis of the quality of education, who then obtained permanent residency after demonstrating their academic abilities, the country would be much better off. Instead Australia (and NZ) is sucking in hundreds of thousands of dumb-assed drones who contribute nothing other than being able to deliver breakfast to hungover locals on Saturday mornings.

  13. I’d like to see MB do an article on how international students are staying in Australia after their course. Proponents of this export industry say “whats the problem? Most of them go home after their degree”. MB has mentioned that some go on to secure PR visas. Others appeal against being deported. Some more details on that would be welcome.

    • You will find that those who are highly successful have left and those who contribute nothing other than being able to deliver breakfast to hungover locals on Saturday mornings are remaining or fighting deportation.