It’s official: Chinese international student boom is over

The department of Home Affairs has released its biannual “Student visa and Temporary Graduate visa program report” for December 2018, which reveals that the boom in Chinese international students is officially over.

As shown in the below chart and table, the number of student visas granted to Chinese citizens fell by 3.3% in the second half of 2018, with China’s share of total international student visas granted also falling to 21.4% from 24.4% in 2017:

However, the fall in Chinese international students was more than offset by Indians and Nepalese, which experienced explosive growth in students numbers in H2 2018 of 53.5% and 47.8% respectively.

The next chart shows how Indian international student numbers are quickly closing the gap with their Chinese counterparts:

The decline in Chinese international students has caused alarm at Australia’s Group of Eight universities, given the Chinese account for the lion’s share of fees paid:

The pivot to India could hurt the university sector because Indians are about 50 per cent more likely than their Chinese counterparts to pursue vocational study.

…the prestigious research-intensive universities will be disadvantaged because they rely heavily on Chinese students. The University of Sydney and UNSW Sydney both sourced more than 26 per cent of their revenue last year from Chinese students’ fees. Melbourne, Monash, Queensland and the Australian National universities are also highly dependent on this income stream…

Australian Bureau of Statistics data show that the number of visitors from China has fallen for 10 consecutive months and is now at its lowest level in two years – a trend consistent with suggestions that Chinese media criticism of Australia, a side-effect of the countries’ tense bilateral relations, is dampening Chinese people’s enthusiasm to travel there…

In another potential blow to Australian universities’ coffers, there are signs that some Chinese students ostensibly in Australia to undertake higher education may never do so.

Many Chinese students visit Australia on “packaged” visas that authorise stints of English-language study and possibly short “non-award” courses, culminating in university education. Home Affairs includes them among the 85 per cent of Chinese student visas that are attributed to the higher education sector.

As MB has noted previously, there are several possible explanations for why Chinese international student numbers are falling.

First, China is busy investing heavily in its own higher education, which comes at the same time as doubts have arisen over the quality of Australia’s tertiary education.

Second, Chinese may be dissuaded from studying in Australia due to escalating political tensions between the two nations.

Third, the CCP may be dissuading its citizens from studying abroad in a bid to slow capital outflow and protect its currency.

One thing’s for certain, the Chinese international student boom looks done.

Unconventional Economist

Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. Leith is an economist and has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.

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  1. Maybe the Chinese have found easier and cheaper ways to exploit ‘South Guangzhou’?

    After all the actual number of Chinese mainland born communists in Australia is exploding.

    -> Now 1.3 million Chinese mainland born communists onshore, with only a small fraction as citizens.

    🇨🇳 283,000 Citizen grants to Chinese that are mainland born communists, mostly earlier waves.

    🇨🇳 428,000 PR mainland born Chinese communists as sole passport Chinese Nationals. Refuse assimilation. The PR retains their Chinese Nationality but gives them Australian Medicare & welfare as they live here in ‘China First’ enclaves.

    🇨🇳385,000 mainland Chinese communists on temporary visas or via the NZ SCV trafficking racket.

    That’s 1.1 million permanent or very long stay Chinese mainland born communists in Australia.

    Plus the Chinese mainland born overstayers..

    So those numbers aren’t reducing.
    They are exploding.

    And then add on the huge number of Chinese mainland born communists as ‘tourist visitors’ – we have 8.8 million ‘tourists visitors’ – predominantly Chinese & Indian and many Chinese on long stay & repeat stay visas so estimated at over 180,000 at any one time onshore.
    The long stay visa to do the ‘medical tourism in frauding Medicare, to stock pile the PBS drugs to sell back in China, to work illegally or in vice.

    -> 1.3 million Chinese mainland born communists in Australia.
    And more importantly, 1.1 million as non citizens.

    90% or 1.1 million in Sydney & Melbourne

    $2k in China buys an Australian TR 4 year long stay visa and pathway to an Australian PR.
    Stay on the Chinese passport.
    Self funded / illegal work pre-organised or be mule to launder the dirty money, all on a pretext visa, repay the agent procurer & loan debt.
    Be the anchor for chain migration.
    Never assimilate.
    A decade in Australia and no English.

    It’s all on display in China – the agents & syndicates trafficking the Chinese aged, sick, misfit & antisocial peasantry to be packaged up and sent off to a ‘South Guangzhou’ on a pretext visas as part of China’s hukou slum clearance program.

    And it’s all on display here – in Burwoo, Strathwoo, Chatswoo, Rhodes, Zetland, Mascot, Auburn etc.

    • These “communists” are here to teach us how real capitalism works because compared to china we look like a communist utopia.

    • DominicMEMBER

      Mike, I don’t disagree with a lot of what you’re suggesting but when is all this rorting of Medicare and anything else going to start showing up in the budget. Fraudenburg is talking about a surplus for this current financial year (BS of course) but nonetheless, you’d expect all the freeloading to be pressuring the budget big time.

      • John Howards Bowling Coach

        The issue is that the health care providers are more than happy to ring up more Medicare claims so they want that rort kept quiet. It’s like thinking that Coles and Woolies are going to try to stop the Chinese buying up all the Infant Formula, yes it’s bad for the local shopper and against the rules, but for them it is good for business, so nothing will actually change.

      • LNP dont care about that because they can see the benefit to the economy that cheap labour (with no pension or unemployment payment to worry about) and the budget surplus can be garnered from the unemployed and public service cuts.

      • DominicMEMBER

        I dunno Steve. One day handing out freebies to the hordes will matter. Esp when the unemployment rate is 12%

  2. Interesting that no-one from the UK is bothering to apply to university here. This is not a viable “export” – it’s a clear visa rort.

    • John Howards Bowling Coach

      That is a great reality check. It’s too easy to say we have a superior education system and ignore the reality of the expected pathway to Visa or Citizenship. But when you compare it to our so called peers and measure how many people are really coming here for the superior education compared to another nation with high education standards, you so clearly see they don’t put their money on Australia as being a true provider of superior education. Of course there will be outliers which have biased the tiny numbers which should perhaps be even lower, such as a German student wanting to be a marine biologist.

  3. How many of those students are actually cheap labour for apartment builders going to evening “college” to learn English, rather than uni students? Rather a lot, I suspect…

    • Was down near Central Station yesterday for work. About 20 guys working on a new light rail stop on George St – not a single one of them was Aussie. All Chinamen, no English, just sitting around. Our tax money and a major infrastructure project outsourced whilst young Aussie men are scraping by on 3 different jobs all on casual hours.

  4. They’re having sex at one for $30 no condom. The majority of them never get check ups and don’t want the results of tests to stain their PR hopes. The trouble is men will go down that path and not get check ups either. That $30 goes a long way in China. What men don’t realise is their cheap entertainment comes with horrific risks – but greed is the order of the day. The only reason the HIV rate of prostitutes in Australia is on par with the general population infection rates is because it’s the girls using condoms getting tested, not the others. The world stats show a prostitute is 13 times more likely to be positive. Australia doesn’t show that, because the grubby ones are too greedy to take time off work to get tested. They just don’t care. There should be mandatory IDENTIFIED testing if you want to operate in that trade as a guest in this country.

    • John Howards Bowling Coach

      That seems to be a very scary thought to me. I can guess that there must be a very direct connection between the explosion in rates of STIs in many developed countries and the explosion in ‘massage’ services. I’d guess almost all of these shops with LED signs spreading across the developed world like a virus, are in fact spreading viruses. If not controlled I suppose STI rates will soon jump back to that of the naughty past in sailor trading ports around the globe.

  5. Our Australian kids no longer have a penchant to go to Uni even though they are educated enough (that’s perhaps why) they feel the standards are dropping considerably and they don’t want to have to teach the foreigners English for every assignment.

    • reusachtigeMEMBER

      Nope, they’d just rather “hang-out” playing video games, watching pron, and doing the unsociable goods. They have lost the will to succeed and probably just whinge about it instead.

    • kiwikarynMEMBER

      They really don’t need to, their parents will tap the equity of their house to fund their kids first home, and then they are set for life. Will probably pay the mortgage as well if that casual gig employment thingy goes a bit sideways.

  6. reusachtigeMEMBER

    LOLOLOLOL! Like property, you call a slight negative sideways movement in Chinamen learners the end of the boom? No, it’s just part of the normal cycle in student arrivals and the new boom in Chinamen educational recipients is building.

  7. What about diversity? These University love that word, but only take in students from 2 places. Hardly seems diverse to me. Soon they will have to photoshop white people into their promotional materials.

    • John Howards Bowling Coach

      Of course that lack of diversity is glaringly obvious if you consider it. But on your other point about wanting to include European faces on the brochures, so far they are too dumb to even think about that, they include as may foreigners as possible. You’d think that would be off-putting to a student wanting to come here for the cultural experience and mixing with other local young students, but evidently that is not the case, they might well be coming here with no intention of being integrated, happy to live in a parallel society.

  8. John Howards Bowling Coach

    From talking to my customers in China the feeling on the ground over there is they are in deeper economic trouble than they admit. The local economy in China is hurting a lot more from the Trade War than they want to admit.