International student visa numbers skyrocket

The Department of Home Affairs has released its temporary visa statistics for the March quarter of 2019, which reveals that the number of  temporary students visas on issue hit an all-time high 613,000, up 77,000 over the year and 280,000 higher than March 2013:

The data is broadly matched by the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) short-term student arrivals data, which hit a record high 610,000 in March 2019, up from 367,000 in March 2014:

The data is interesting because earlier this month, The Australian reported that “the highly lucrative six-year boom in Chinese students is over” based on the testimony of a senior Department of Home Affairs official who had briefed Australian universities informing them that visa applications from Chinese students were flat.

This testimony is broadly confirmed by the ABS’ short-term arrivals data, which shows that arrivals from China (albeit from all sources, not just students) have fallen for nine consecutive months and are now at mid-2017 levels:

As revealed in this month’s Four Corners expose on Australia’s international student trade, China is by far Australia’s largest source of international students, followed by India and Nepal (see below graphics).

Therefore, in light of the stagnation in arrivals from China, this suggests that Australia’s universities have pivoted to sourcing students from these nations.

This is potentially problematic. Research from Dr Bob Birrell from the Australian Population Research Institute shows that Chinese students tend to pay higher fees and study at higher quality Group of Eight (GoE) Universities. By contrast, students sourced from India tend to study at cheaper institutions, often for the primary purpose of gaining employment and future permanent residency in Australia.

This month’s Four Corners report was especially critical of the the quality of students coming from the Indian sub-continent, reporting widespread instances of plagiarism, academic misconduct, and students failing their courses.

For example, Dr Duncan Farrow, a maths lecturer and academic misconduct investigator, told Four Corners:

“I have just reviewed the results for students from the Punjab region in BSC100 Building Blocks for Science Students and it is depressing. Of the 52 students in this category, 12 have passed the unit outright — a pass rate of less than 25 per cent”.

Murdoch University’s Professor Benjamin Reilly noted similar:

“In semester one 2018 we experienced a surge in new international students into some postgraduate courses. This surge increased sharply in semester two 2018, with several hundred new students, mostly from the Punjab region of India, enrolling in a small number of postgraduate courses.

“While some were OK, many do not have the language skills to study at a postgraduate level and have thus been unable to participate in class or complete assessments for the units legitimately.

“Hence we now have a much larger number of academic misconduct issues, supplementary assessments and outright failures than we have previously experienced in the units in which this cohort has enrolled”…

Inside Story’s economics correspondent, Tim Colebatch, similarly raised the alarm on the large numbers of lower quality Nepalese students flocking to Australia’s universities:

Deregulation has allowed universities to selectively lower their standards to bring in more fee-paying foreign students, even when they fail to meet the thresholds for English language skills or academic achievement…

This is not the first time immigration from Nepal has surged. A decade ago, we saw a scam with training visas, in which “students” from India and Nepal came for training courses in Australia, then quickly vanished into the workforce. The scam saw net immigration set record levels in 2008–09, before then immigration minister Chris Evans shut it down. But most of those who came stayed on here.

The surge in international students into Australian universities has already unambiguously lowered education standards, as revealed in this month’s Four Corners report (and elsewhere).

And with the pivot towards Indian and Nepalese students – where plagiarism, academic misconduct, and students failing their courses are more common – Australian university standards will be lowered even further in a desperate bid to keep the fees rolling.

[email protected]

Unconventional Economist
Latest posts by Unconventional Economist (see all)


    • Careful what you wish for Jacob. If the universities don’t need local students to help international students complete group assignments anymore, they might just drop the povo locals altogether so they can cram more full-fee-paying foreign students in….

  1. reusachtigeMEMBER

    Excellent. Good news for house prices. Anyone who can’t see the new boom coming has mental retardation issues without doubt.

    • Well. Yes. What do you think the average price of a house will be in 20 years. The young will all moan about how cheap prices were in 2019 and how buyers back then had it so easy. We all know it.

      • Are you implying that in 20 years time the ratio of average house prices to average wage would be substantially above 10-12?

      • Nope. I said what do you think the average price will be. Steve buys an “overpriced” million dollar house with an 800k mortgage on a 30 year term. It’s 15km from Melbourne. How much do you believe that house will be worth in 20 years time. Should Steve have waited 20 years until the 2.5 million dollar house was only 5 times average household income.

  2. Its just so sad that Labor and the Greens are making that Aussie legend Scotty Morrison let in all these students. Why do they keep making him do these things? Just like all those temp/bridging visa holders, how can Labor hurt poor Scotty this way?

    • The reason people are so incensed at Labor, is because they are meant to be the institutional voice of dissent on this crap, not the cheerleaders. If they were criticising this rubbish, the headline would be: “Labor calls time on Uni migration rorts”.

      • Institutional voice of dissent? No, they are a political party, just like the Liberals….and guess what? It is the Liberals who are in government. It is Scotty’s responsibility.

        If you are angry about current policy, then direct your anger at the party in control of the policy. It’s been over 6 years now, and if anything our borders have become more porous, not less, under the LNP.

        If you went into that ballot box and voted for Scotty, you voted for this. Stop whining and accept responsibility for your actions.

        You are an adult not a child.

      • Nathan, but why is Labor not calling this out for what it is?

        Answer because the progressives are likely too busy saying it’s probably just racist.

      • You keep missing the point N. It doesn’t matter who people vote for, this is bipartisan policy, arguably worse under Labor. Telling someone who disagrees with you to grow up? Really?

      • Both the same, but Labor worse, is nonsensical.

        This is the thought processes of a child.

      • And right there is how labor dies. Labor’s open border policies were worse than the LNP and if anyone dares question the city left they are just children who don’t understand how really virtuous they are. Of course being virtuous doesn’t mean actually being virtuous – you can still trash the family for a bit of tail, or take s few lobbyist bucks, it just means confirming to the virtuous left normative values of identification and belonging. The biggest children here are the petulant left with their sneering self belief and embarrassing obsession with belonging.

      • may18 2019 ring a bell for you Nathan? the election? the platforms that where proffered?
        the alp had the opportunity and the responsibility to address this sh1t in the campaign. and all those cvnts did was tacitly approve the current arrangements.

  3. While Joe Average goes backwards, for VCs it is only blue skies (and falling standards) ahead.

    It’s good to be king.

  4. So more poorer students coming in less and the start of less richer students. Aussie youth get shafted, slumlords win with more meat for the grinder but this lot will by and large most likely not be buying houses in significant numbers until they make their fortune onshore (we’ll need credit standards significantly loosened forthem to be able to buy – it’ll take the 2018 vintage a whileto save up for a deposit). So a positive for rents in the short term, and house prices in the medium term?

  5. As I’ve said many times before, the top 5% of today’s population is just as smart as the top 5% from any point in recent history, they’re just as dedicated, just as competitive and just as arrogant…after all they’re the top 5%.
    Now if you we arbitrarily decide that 50% of our population (plus just as many foreign duffers) need to go to our universities, than standards must fall and fall and fall. There’s no mystery, no conspiracy, it’s all just a numbers game.
    If you want to ask the difficult questions than start with: Why as a society we’re expecting 50% of our population to have the academic aptitude and dedication which for all previous generations was strictly the prevail of our top 5%?
    I mean, what’s wrong with us that makes us believe such a transformation to be possible?
    I see zero evidence to suggest that we are doing a better job of educating our kids in Primary or Secondary schools yet we expect our Tertiary institutions to pick up the slack…if anything were going backwards when it comes to preparing secondary school students with the necessary STEM skills ( for NSW look at 2 unit Math percentages over the last 20 years…it’s embarrassing) Yet here we are expecting forward progress when all indicators suggest we’re stuck in reverse.
    Ah but we have a solution, we need to expand Tertiary education to cater for more people and more people and more people …after all it’s all a numbers game.

    • That has been my view….. before all the AI thing.

      With the pace AI has been developing these days, it may not be long before an era comes in which human intelligence is no longer required.

      Besides, the primary purpose of unis these days is to keep the headline unemployment numbers down. I mean, how many percent of all uni students are in STEM?

    • @fisho the recently released book “At Our Wits End” outlines the case for falling IQ’s in Western countries.

      • I’m, not sure if our IQ’s are increasing decreasing or remaining about the same…to be honest I’m not even really sure what IQ’s is a measure of. So to conclude that these measurements (of who knows what exactly) show an undeniable downward trend is also an interesting idea in itself.
        I’m definitely not in the Eugenics crowd that defines high IQ as having traits similar to me and therefore concludes that everyone else with other defining attributes is of Low IQ …yeah that’s a leap to far for me.
        As for the Darwinism side of the declining IQ argument, I’m still not sure what is being naturally selected in today’s environment. The other day I read an interesting article that linked Steroid use with low fertility in men, so the more buff we try to make ourselves using external supplements the more infertile we become, there’s a similar social concept that we’re so busy protecting our daughters future (education and not messing up her life with unwanted pregnancies etc) that we’re actually confining them to live futile and incomplete lives.
        Maybe it’s only the very rich and the very poor that can safely afford to ignore this social Siren’s call.

      • @fisho human evolution is accelerating as per evidence in the book titled “The 10,000 Year Explosion”, it’s only recently that research is being conducted on the link between natural selection and IQ.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        @fisho the recently released book “At Our Wits End” outlines the case for falling IQ’s in Western countries.

        LOL. An aristocrat and a white supremacist pining for the glory days of empire try to pin “the decline of western civilisation” on brown people and feminism.

      • @drsmithy
        I hope that’s not directed at me, God only knows I’m not the nicest person on this planet but I hope others would not describe me as either am aristocrat or a white supremacist. Trust me my sentiments fall into neither of these categories. I know full well that my sentiments are not shared by the majority but that should not be understood as any indication that my intentions are not aligned with the best intentions of the majority.
        I’m anything but a supremacist.

      • drsmithyMEMBER

        I hope that’s not directed at me, God only knows I’m not the nicest person on this planet but I hope others would not describe me as either am aristocrat or a white supremacist.

        No, it’s a summary of the book you were recommended.

        The other one is of similar calibre.

        Both are just typical scientific racism, which seems to have had something of a resurgence the last few years.

    • What bugs me about the whole topic is that we have all participated in this redefinition of the role that’s expected from our top universities.
      We’ve decided what percentage of our students should have this path available to them
      We’ve defined how much we (and our gov’t) are willing to spend to complete this task
      We’ve created this International student “full fee” group that enables the Uni’s to function on their available budget
      and yet we’re surprised when our deliberate interference with function, form and funding of the University system results in lower quality graduates and course dumbing-down….yet we apparently can’t see that it is our own unrealistic expectations (university for everyone) that is the root cause of the problem.

  6. Here are the full numbers & some views of the social & economic impact.

    There are 712,050 foreign students & ‘partners’ which aren’t being included.
    Up 75,000 in total in the last year.

    It’s not an ‘export industry’, their money – almost all over the life cycle of a visa period is earned here.
    It’s negative impact to Australians in the tens of billions.
    Each foreign student has on average a negative impact of some -$25k a year to our society. Detail below.

    The bigger picture.
    In March 2019 we have 2.561 million non residents Temporary visa holders.

    1,866,089 who are non Resident TR, the vast majority are third world unskilled & at least 1.4 million are working & living illegally in visa breach.

    Plus another 695,760 on a NZ SCZ with 278,304 of those as non NZ born & third world unskilled.

    Total 2,561,849. Up 5.3% in the last year.

    The full list as of March 2019.
    Source: Visa Sure & DHA quarterly tables.

    Visa category, the 2018 number, the 2019 number & the yearly growth rate.

    🔹Overstayers permanent stay
    2018: 63,000
    2019: 66,150 +5%

    🔹Visitor long stay, repeat stay, many are entering to live & work illegally.
    2018: 395,000
    2019: 404,760 +3%

    🔹Bridging/protection, come in as a tourist on an electronic visa virtually no checks then claim some protection need and a 5 year plus stay as they exploit the appeals process with full work rights.
    2018: 195,000
    2019: 230,000 +18%

    The Foreign students & partners..
    Please note the actual total of all foreign students & partners on a secondary visa in Australia is across a number of visa categories and is 712,050.

    The International student and post graduate visa holders are 653,000, plus another 59,000 on a ‘partner visas’ & the rest as special or DFAT scholarship visas as shown below.

    The total number of foreign students & partners yearly increase was 75,350.

    🔹International Student primary, 4 year plus stay, and many up to 9 years as they churn courses, COE & visa categories.
    2018: 526,000
    2019: 573,520 +7.5%

    🔹Post Graduate, another 3-5 year stay plus full work rights as they exploit this loophole, very long stay
    2018: 65,000
    2019: 69,550 +7%

    🔹Temp partner ‘foreign student’ very long stay – 4 to 9 years
    2018: 53,000
    2019: 62,000 +16%

    DFAT/special ‘education’ visas (below)
    2018: 6,300
    2019: 6,980 +15%

    Total foreign students & partners

    The foreign students pay a total of only $8.3 billion in fees (Deloitte Access Economics) – an average of $11,650 per year for the visa alibi.

    Exposing that the vast bulk of foreign students as a ‘primary’ / enrolled are doing extremely low level education, often available free online or in their home country.

    Funds. They only bring in a total of $2.4 billion in ‘self declared’ or ‘one time check’ funds (ABF), extensively frauded, with only the first semester paid & the rest of the money for fees, living expenses, loan debt repayment & remittances back to their family’s is earned here illegally.

    Not an ‘export’ if their money is earned here.

    The average foreign student has an income & economic activity of around $43,700 a year – close to half the Australian GDP per Capita average, with up to 75% working illegally (Sydney Uni & UTS studies – SMH).
    They have lowered the Australian gdp per Capita average by 6.8%.
    The net result is over 505,000 full time equivalent Australian jobs are stolen in underground & cash in hand illegally work displacing Australian youth & unskilled Workers.
    We have 1.5 million Australians unemployed & 1.3 million seeking work (Roy Morgan April 2019).
    Those 505,000 now unemployed Australians cost $9.3 billion in Centrelink payments.
    So just the unemployment impact costs to the Australian taxpayer exceed the total foreign student fees (which are paid from money earned illegally here anyway).

    On just this one simple measure it’s obvious the ‘foreign students’ are not an ‘export industry’ at all.

    If you add on illegal work, lowered wages for everyone, little or no taxation as cash in hand, the $18 billion remittances outflow from all the TR, the housing contention & costs, illegal cash in hand subletting run by the foreign criminal landlords, the public transport & road congestion, crime, vice, the degradation of our education and now environmental (water power etc) impacts…
    … then the foreign student industry is a massively negative social and economic impact of many tens of billions to Australia. Up to $17 billion negative, itemised here on MB before.

    Which means every foreign student & partner individually creates a -$25,000 or more net negative impact to Australian’s society & economy.

    Then we have outside of the foreign students.

    🔹Temp partners not foreign student
    2018: 38,000
    2019: 39,300 +3%

    🔹Working holiday, very long stay
    2018: 148,000
    2019: 153,400 + 4%
    90% are in Sydney & Melbourne, doing the 3 month ‘farmer or labor ring bribe’ rural work for a further visa extension.

    🔹Skilled Regional, very long stay
    2018: 20,000
    2019: 21,500 +7%
    Again heavily frauded, third world unskilled in areas where we have 20% youth unemployment.

    🔹Other Temporary Visas, long stay including scholarships & other rackets.
    2018: 70,000
    2019: 72,800 +4%

    🔹Employer Sponsored, very long stay
    2018: 152,000
    2019: 155,040 +2.4%

    🔹Business Provisional, long stay
    2018: 28,000
    2019: 28,840

    ➡️ The Total TR number is
    2018: 1,762,000
    2019: 1,866,089 + 5.9%

    🔹Plus add on the NZ SCV

    2018: 669,000 of which 270,000 are non NZ born born third world unskilled entering via the NZ transit lounge.
    Our fastest growing third world unskilled migrant intake category. They should never have been allowed in, the NZ / Aust SCV should only be for NZ / Aust born.

    2019: 695,760 with an increasing ratio of non NZ born unskilled (and another 290,000 who are stacked up waiting for entry into Australia). 90% one way flow to enter NZ, get the passport stamp, then enter Australia as permanent stay.

    All up numbers.

    2018: 2,431,000 non resident permanent on a very long or permanent stay visa alibi onshore in Australia.

    2019: 2,561,849 non resident, as above & mostly third world adult unskilled with the majority on a visa pretext, many in visa breach, living & working illegally onshore. +5.3% yearly growth.

    TR & NZ SCV migrant concentrations.

    89% + concentration or 2,280,046 in Sydney & Melbourne.

    🔻1.27 million are in Sydney (pop 5.2 million)
    🔹1 in 4 people.

    🔻1.01 million are in Melbourne (pop 5 million)
    🔹1 in 5 people.

    🔻and 281,000 are elsewhere, mostly highly concentrated in other state capital cities & towns.

    The Australian people need a Royal Commission into the entire corrupted border controls & visa system.

    Our migrant intake policy settings, conditions of entry & numbers need to be controlled by a people’s representative body, not the political party in charge of government.

    Over 1.4 million temporary visa holders who are in visa breach & over 270,000 non NZ born SCV who should never have been allowed in – need to be force exited.