Australia’s Chinese international student boom is going bust

The latest official temporary migrant statistics from Australia’s Department of Home Affairs shows there were around 613,000 international student visas on issue as at March 2019, and increase of 77,000 (14%) from the year prior and up 280,500 (84%) since March 2013:

As shown in the next chart from ABC Four Corners recent expose, this growth in international students was driven by China, whose numbers have ballooned from around 95,000 in 2015 to 153,000 as at 2018 – more than double international students from India (72,000) and around five times the numbers from Nepal (28,000):

According to the Department of Education and Training, Chinese students also accounted for $11 billion of Australia’s $32 billion in education earnings in 2018.

Times are changing, however, with the latest official government data suggesting that the Chinese international student boom is ending, replaced by students from India and Nepal:

New federal government data shows that the total number of Chinese students commencing courses in the first semester of 2019 is only 1.5 per cent higher than last year.

This compares to growth of 7.4 per cent last year, and 17 to 19.8 per cent growth in the previous two years… [However] overall numbers continue to grow, driven by strong interest from India and Nepal.

More than 199,000 international students commenced courses in the first three months of this year (corresponding to the start of the first semester), 9.6 per cent higher than last year. The number of commencing Indian students rose by 50 per cent to nearly 29,000 and the number of Nepalese students was up 27.6 per cent to nearly 13,000.

Yesterday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released its monthly overseas arrivals and departures statistics, which supported the view that Chinese student numbers have peaked.

As shown in the next chart, the total number of international student arrivals dipped slightly to 604,000 in the year to April 2019:

However, the bigger story is that Chinese visitor arrivals – which includes both students and tourists – have fallen for 10 consecutive month, down 7% over that period:

Indeed, the last time Chinese arrivals were this low was April 2017.

As we have noted previously, there are a variety of reasons why Chinese student and tourist arrivals are declining.

First, at the same time as Australian university standards have plummeted, as highlighted in last month’s Four Corners report, China is increasing investment in its own universities and lifting its standards.

Second, political tensions between Australia and China have been rising, which could be reducing the flow of both Chinese students and tourists.

Third, China could also be taking actions internally to prevent the outflow of people and capital in a bid to protect the value of its currency.

Fourth, other nations are also vying for the lucrative Chinese international student trade, and this increased competition could be limiting inflows into Australia.

The policy response so far has been to shift focus to lower quality students from Indian and Nepal, where instances of academic misconduct, plagiarism, and underperformance are more common. And with Australia’s universities and private colleges now scraping the bottom of the proverbial international student barrel, Australian university standards will likely be lowered even further to keep international student numbers (and fees) rolling in.

The policy response for tourism is currently unknown.

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  1. Good. I’m sick of seeing our politicians sell us out in any way shape or form they can. They’ve offshored manufacturing to asia. They’ve offshored call and service sectors to asia. They’ve imported hundreds of thousand of asians to lower wages and steal the jobs of the young. They’ve turned PR into a money making exercise by letting dodgy visa agents here and overseas flourish with no oversight. They have ruined the entire education sector from primary right through to VET and Uni by making it a visa factory where education is second to making money, whilst depriving australian kids a real education. They have allowed foreigners to be the marginal price setter driving housing costs through the roof. They have allowed money launderers to also pile in on aussie housing. Also allowing money launderers to buy up fake businesses to gain residency. They have allowed themselves to be corrupted with pissant donations from foreign agents to gain a footholds in australian politics with several politicians completely selling out to the detriment of the people so they can feather their own nest. I could go on.

    The only thing that will stop out pathetic government is if other governments stop it.

    • …and they’ve assisted in making any of said observations impossible to discuss.

      Elites are only able to progress such policies if dissent is off limits and a cabal of politicians on both sides of politics fend off any criticism as “racism” or the “bigotry” of stupid people. None of the consequences you mention have been subject to a democratic process or a cost-benefit analysis looking at social, environmental and cultural impacts of mass immigration and neoliberalism that has hijacked public institutions and sold our amenity. There are no independent agencies charged with an assessment of the public good and public policy – they have been eliminated. Instead, endless “economic” prattle and paper thin narrative about “diversity” and “earnings” are recycled as propaganda – and it works. The public have been well trained by public relations memes.

      For instance, it is now impossible to suggest that “mass immigration takes jobs from locals”. Many ‘informed’ people now know that this is false – but why? Have you ever seen a government report testing the premise or an independent analysis? I haven’t. Yet simply by bombarding the media with the idea that this is an argument that only neo-Nazis and thugs use, no analysis needs to be presented. Instead, panels of talking heads and cock sure ‘personalities’ will take up the cause of justice with religious zeal without ever finding the facts and figures to justify this popular narrative. That’s the stuff of Orwell’s 1984 and it is incredibly dangerous, as what else will the public end up by ‘knowing’ as a fact without evidence? What else can elites slip past the electorate using glib public relations strategies that are read verbatim from the autocue by some of the stupidest and self interested dills in our society – the overpaid mass-media talking heads and anchorman and women who are parodies of themselves.

      • DominicMEMBER

        My daughter is doing ‘debating’ at school and it’s been a revelation (for her parents, and I think, for her) i.e. it’s taught her to think, to appreciate there is always another angle to every story. The debating course is provided by an outside party though — it is not part of the State curriculum. Which isn’t surprising, as teaching your citizens to think for themselves is potentially very dangerous (something most South American governments have understood for a long time).

        Better to present a narrative and keep them on-script throughout their time at school. Even the Unis these days appear to be weighed down by a pall of apathy. They are not the hotbeds of activism and free thought they once were.

    • Your first paragraph is spot on.

      And it is not just young Aussies but 50 year old Aussies too.

      * Former coal power station workers wanting to drive buses *

      Why pay Aussies to drive buses when you can hire a third world passport holder (who will then demand that his grandma be allowed to live in Australia as well):

      Adelaide-based bus driver

      it’s really important for us to bring her here

      Visas which let parents of migrants live permanently in Australia are difficult to obtain, and expensive, costing $50,000 per person

    • McPaddyMEMBER

      How is this good? We’re just trading down and the same song keeps playing. We’ve swapped Madonna for Britney.

  2. Indian IT firms are not going to hire Nepalese men – they will only hire Indian men.

    The Nepali “students” will have to go back to Nepal. How long does a bridging visa last? And are the “graduates” eligible for a Medicare card while they on a bridging visa?

    • @jacob they never go back, they’re simply here to obtain a migration outcome and will enrol into courses with dodgy private colleges owned by Indian’s, Nepalese and Chinese who will provide you a certificate as long as you can afford it.

  3. reusachtigeMEMBER

    ” increase of 77,000 (14%) from the year prior” – looks like a boom in students to me, which is great for our economy! I just cannot see any signs pointing to anything else but boom times ahead, that is a given!

  4. tripsterMEMBER

    Isn’t the fifth reason that going to study overseas is expensive (if the person is doing it legitimately), China’s economy is struggling and less people can therefore afford to do it? In that way it is another indicator of the true state of the Chinese economy?

  5. Jolly Trollop 3

    LoL …. Nepal? My arent we scrapping the bottom of the barrel in our hunt for moar New Autralians …

  6. Australia 2019. Dumb as phuck. Builders of little. Corrupt politicians. Big Australia. Third world education standards. Living standards nosediving. Locals irrelevant. Bring on the new population that knows no different.
    We take away our children’s dreams and aspirations by selling our property for overinflated prices to a growing audience introduced to our country by our own hand and then have the audacity to call our children lazy as they gaze their eyes into a smart screen – the same smart screen that we created for them.
    Australians deserve what they get – they act not as one voice raging against injustice and political corruption and vested interest – but as silos thinking only of their own self-preservation. It is US that have collectively let our children down – willing to let the stampede of foreign interests take hold of our country.
    We need to die out and let our kids stand up and remember what it meant up be an Aussie, like the diggers before us knew. The Baby Boomer legacy should be written and understood into history and then set on fire. All about the self has brought us to this point of economic decay.
    Try as you might – look back on your generation and remember what you had and what state you left Australia in for future generations. And stood collectively idly by as you squirm to justify the unjustifiable.

    • McPaddyMEMBER

      Sadly those kids won’t know, as they never had the chance to experience what we’ve lost.

    • fitzroyMEMBER

      I don’t think this has happened collectively. It is big money purchasing both sides of Parliament. No one voted for any of this. We haven’t been trusted with a choice. It hasn’t just happened here, all of the anglosphere have this problem. It is having a democracy that can be corrupted and the Davos crowd that can control interest rates- not the electorate, that can peddle the debt. When the locals are maxed out import some more cannon fodder so the Davis crowd can pillage the saving and work of the workers by money debasement . What has happened is quite deliberate and vicious. They wish to take the savings of the middle class by a land crash, just as happened in the states.

      • Collectively we have chosen to continue believing that the ALP and LNP still behave as they did in the 80s and 90s. The older generations are stuck in s timewarp believing that’s all there is to vote for, failing to realise that the 2 major parties are selling our children’s futures down the gurgler. En masss we continue to vote for these killers of our way of life.

      • Any different to Conservatives and Labour, Democrats and Republican???? No Glass Steagall, real estate booms everywhere, open borders everywhere, students everywhere, debt peddled everywhere, government coffers looted, legacy populations ransacked, Irish, Italian and Spanish kids on the streets of Melbourne, Universities flooded by the third world. I don’t disagree that the local kids are shafted.

    • Being that guns and ammo are so difficult to get hold of; its time to start stocking up on machete’s (or your long bladed weapon of choice) and rope (and learn how to tie a hangman’s noose).

  7. “The policy response so far has been to shift focus to lower quality students from Indian and Nepal” which deters more Chinese; a magical feedback loop!

    • Lenny Hayes for PMMEMBER

      Not really, they generally study at different types of institutions so never the twain shall meet.

  8. What is happening with Nepal? I understand that China and India have the two largest populations on the planet so there is no surprise that these two countries supply the two largest student groups. But Nepal?

    • We certainly need sherpas to negotiate the dizzying heights our house prices have reached… is that good enough a reason for you?

    • I dunno if it’s true, but I’ve seen references to Nepalese diplomats being involved in operating scammy “educational” institutions.

      Oh…JHBC has a little more info below…

  9. We’d be better off focusing on our neighbours to our immediate north – Particularly the English speaking ones like Malaysia and Philippines, but Indonesia would also be very good. Do it with the absolute proviso that PR or refugee status is not an option, and allow them to work here long enough to pay down their fees – since that’s what happens anyway.

    But that would require a strategic plan – and we all know Straya’s version of strategic planning is “She’ll be right, mate”

    Soft power requires actual policy.

    • I don’t think anybody will come once you “do it with the absolute proviso that PR or refugee status is not an option”.

      • Plenty do.

        Many Malaysian companies offer scholarships in Australia with a stipend in a similar arrangement to our armed services. Work X years for us on return and it’s free.

        We could drag Indonesia up the poverty chain in the same way China has been. They’ll be much better allies than China.

      • You’re right. They would not come, unless working/studying in Australia can be seen to lead to a PR. That’s the goal of every single one I’ve ever met, bar one who told me that was his goal until he arrived and discovered he actually didn’t like Australia. Failing that, they apply for the trusty bridging visa and make as much money as they can until itheir shonky reason is refused or rewarded – or they find some lonely soul to marry.

      • John Howards Bowling Coach

        While a very large portion come here to get a Visa, especially the Indians, there are a very large number of Chinese who actually want to return to China. Given the rising living standards for the wealthy Chinese and their many advantages in living in a nation of their mother tongue and a raging economic development I can understand why. It’s also a pretty attractive lifestyle if you want to be like the many middle class and above Chinese who get a massage a few times a week, eat out daily, and have their kids raised by their parents. I spend a lot of time there and I see a lot of people having an enjoyable lifestyle they could not have here in Australia. It’s not a place I want to live, I value different things to most Chinese, but for them it’s not so bad and this is the reason they still support Chairman Xi, as for many their lives are a lot better than they were.

  10. John Howards Bowling Coach

    I believe the Nepalese student boom is down to this man. He is the Second Richest Nepalese in the world, resident in Melbourne and the founder of a crappy second grade training college passing itself off as genuine by using a name very similar to what was previously a high standard university RMIT. He appears to be the channel through which this poor nation Nepal are now a massive source of International Students, of I presume are quite low grade, now flooding into our nation, almost entirely to the benefit of Shesh Ghale and his wife.

  11. I’m still in shock at one example I found where an international student paid around $20,000 a semester, still didnt speak more than five words of English, yet the school was eager to take them back after 2 failed semesters. The immigration agent then came up with the bizarre story that this person was not just a failed student who did not attend classes, but in fact a persecuted Muslim who now embraced Christianity and needed to remain here. How strange I was the sole Christian around and they never once asked me about it? All I was asked about was finding any way to stay in Australia, not my Christianity .

  12. John Howards Bowling Coach

    Migration Agents/Consultants are the Mortgage Brokers of the boom. If ever there was a Royal Commission into the Immigration Arena of Australia the first question asked by the Commissioner would be ‘What is the purpose of the Immigration Agent/Consultant?’ The next would be ‘Who do they work for, the Immigration department, the Education providers, or the aspiring migrant?’ It’s a very close situation to what is going on in Banking/Finance when you really look under the bonnet of the whole industry that has arrived out of nowhere to become and ‘immigration industry’. I would wager the vast majority are foreigners, both long term migrants and recent arrivals, with no taxes paid and a lot of the profit repatriated out of Australia. But just like the bottom feeders that are the Mortgage Brokers, they would argue that chopping out this cancer should not happen because of the resultant job losses of all these parasites.