International students “dumbing down academic standards”

May’s Four Corners “cash cows” report on Australia’s international student industry showed that universities have eroded both entry and teaching standards to entice huge volumes of lower-quality, full fee-paying international students:

“In terms of attracting international students, universities will do whatever they need to do…they are the cash cows. There is no doubt about it.” Academic

Shortly afterwards, a former Monash College English language teacher, Warwick Lough, accused universities of using dodgy English-language bridging courses to farm sub-standard international students through their degree-level courses:

“This is not a grey area. It is an absurdity that they can enter with language which is wholly inadequate,” he said…

“The assessments are carefully crafted to allow about 90 per cent of students to pass.” He said speech and writing components of the internal test were often “very carefully rehearsed”…

Professor Salvatore Babones made similar accusations in his recent seminal report for the Centre for Independent Studies.

Interestingly, a new working paper by academics from Canada’s Queen’s University Department of Economics has also raised concern that the increasing concentration of international students has caused a “progressive erosion or dumbing down of academic standards”:

…the numbers of foreign students at universities and colleges in Canada have been rising dramatically in recent years, and these raise major concerns of academic risks for the post-secondary education (PSE) sector in this country.

The international student population at Canadian PSE schools has gone up from 60 thousand in 2000 to 246 thousand in 2016 and to over 300 thousand last year…

Australia and the United Kingdom are further down this road in the burgeoning reliance of their universities on foreign students as a critical revenue stream, and we can learn from their experiences and warnings. About 13 percent of university students in Canada are international students, while in Australia and the U.K. the proportions are 25 percent. Indeed, at several of Australia’s universities, the proportion of foreign students is well above 40 percent. Increasing the numbers so rapidly poses the issue of whether Canadian schools are reaching further down the quality barrel…

A key feature of the burgeoning inflow of foreign students is their functional fluency in English (or French) at time of arrival. If the incoming students are not reasonably fluent, they will have difficulty keeping up with the required material and especially handling written assignments. Yet the school does not want to lose a lucrative revenue stream, so there are strong incentives to accommodate such limitations and water down performance requirements (e.g., allowing substitute requirements for tests and rewrites, group assessment and multiple-choice exams, grading students on a curve, inflating grades, and administrative officials over-riding instructors’ grades), so there is a progressive erosion or dumbing down of academic standards…

Such heavy reliance on revenue from foreign students can result in prioritizing the “success” of foreign students over the education and training of domestic students and domestic educational and labour market needs…

Many schools use foreign recruitment agents who are paid on a commission basis, thus providing opportunities and incentives for fraudulent claims and language test results. Some universities in Australia have also set up separate foreign student preparatory programs or “bridging courses” (at hefty fees to the universities) which then allow “graduates” to by-pass the regular admission requirements…

These developments have a statistically significant deleterious spillover effect on the general quality of education provided to the student body as a whole – domestic as well as foreign students…

The bottom line is that such heavy reliance on revenue from foreign students can result in prioritizing the “success” of foreign students above the education and training of local students. This may imply that domestic Canadian students lose out in the terms of both the quality of education, training and available curriculum; degrees at Canadian universities lose their value, and the reputation of Canadian schools decline; and the skills/training of graduating students are less of a match for Canadian economic policy and domestic labour market needs…

It is worth pointing out that Australia has roughly three times the concentration of international students as Canada:

Therefore, any concerns about Canada’s international student industry must be magnified for Australia’s, which has completely sold its soul for short-term profit.

Unconventional Economist

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

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Comments

  1. The common problem is that Australian’s have had no choice of economic and public policy agendas for a good 30 years. Now that the management of public institutes has experienced a process of ‘corporatisation’, profit has won out over standards and this choice has been hard-wired into our institutions so that they are not influenced by democratic processes.

    They have been firewalled by the magic formula: 1. Set up a board and incentivise it with bonuses; 2. Cut public funding; 3, Wait for all the pesky standards and expensive academic culture to be thrown overboard; 4. Find next victim.

    The ALP and LNP have played the same game with different window dressing, unaware that the model is wrong and based upon incorrect assumptions.

    It turns out that public investment is essential for innovation and productive capitalism. Without it you drive institutions to a shell of their former potential and create a form of capitalism that eats itself. You run it to the end game when it has eaten all the productive IP and given almost none back. That sign is a one trick pony economy with no productivity.

    https://qz.com/1669346/mariana-mazzucatos-plan-to-use-governments-to-save-capitalism-from-itself/

    This is why Australia ranks way behind most OECD countries in innovation:

    https://www.wipo.int/edocs/pubdocs/en/wipo_pub_gii_2019-intro4.pdf

    The economic theory is wrong. So too is the way in which universities and public institutions are managed in keeping with it. After a 30 year experiment, and after having promised to deliver a clever country, they have succeeded in the reverse and keep making the same mistake. Are we there yet? When are we going to start innovating and inventing at a rate comparable with our major OECD nations? How many million more immigrants do we need until this baby fires on all cylinders? Where is the data?

    Australia is trapped because the ALP and LNP are doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome.

    • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

      This “Stapling of a Visa to Diploma” is a growing phenomenon that is starting to be noticed right around the world.

      Whatever you think of Tucker Carson, he is absolutely 100% on point. He’s also probably one of the most influential Journalists in the US at the moment – why?

      Because Trump listens to him. That alone is worth having a peak in to hear what he has to say:

      https://mobile.twitter.com/ColumbiaBugle/status/1194086205157019648

      • Not only is Tucker killing it but so is Nick Fuentes and his army of young ‘Groypers’ exposing faux conservative grifters like Charlie Kirk’s Turning Point USA.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SX6rFsoDCU&t=622s

        Corporate ‘conservatives’ will not allow any discussions re immigration. As Fuentes and his ilk point out – what are they conserving, then?

        • Conservatives have never cared about “immigration” so long as it was mostly contained to a suitably impoverished underclass so the right kinds of people weren’t impacted.

        • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

          Progressives have never cared about “immigration” so long as it was mostly contained to a suitably impoverished underclass so the right kinds of people were impacted (our low skilled workers, usually bogon racists).

      • Tucker is a fcuking legend. I love the way he sits there listening to bafflegab from his victims with that incredulous look on his face. Right before he shivs them.

    • Why undertake the work and uncertainty of innovation, when you can just get a loan and buy an investment property?

      Indeed, this explains so much of why the Aussie economy is so crap and undiverse…

  2. International students should f off home. I have had enough. Having them here wrecks the experience for locals.

    I pray for a worldwide depression or asian pandemic to wipe this crap from our shores. Something out of left field

    As it turns out enoch and pauline were 100 correct and then some

    • If all the overseas student ‘go home’, our universities will go bankrupt and the local can no longer get a degree in Australia.

      Cap the places the number of places for both overseas and local students, is the only solution.

      • I’m pretty sure that the inersities and all their fancy buildings won’t dissappear if the foreign students go home.

        And if the feds can print money for housing, they sure as hell can print money for education.

        • Those fancy building are built using borrowed money.

          Look at UNSW in 2018 : of the 2.2 billion in revenue, 808million are from international students. Their expense is also 2.2 billion, so remove those overseas student income and it will be immediate insolvency.

          • If there is one thing that you should’ve learned from the last decade is that printing fixes insolvency.

          • We should do what the USA does, put a quota on each country. So students from any one country cannot exceed 7% of the total.

            That will actually lead to more “diversity”.

          • Stewie GriffinMEMBER

            Good – the cure for over investment and wasteful expenditure is bankruptcy.

            Australia DOESN’T need so many frigging Universities – it needs half of those 3rd grade Universities to be turned back into 1st Grade vocational training centres and TAFEs.

            As for all the academics like Liz Allen aka “Dr Demography” – they can enter the private workforce and stop sucking on the Govt teet by learning to code or utilising their existing skill set by making coffees.

        • “If there is one thing that you should’ve learned from the last decade is that printing fixes insolvency.”

          I presume you say this in jest but in case not, let me correct you: printing fixes ‘liquidity’ and redistributes wealth. It categorically does not fix insolvency.

          • Zomg, Dom, you’re so naive.

            They call printing “liquidity” and you believe them. They call it “liquidity” so that people (…like you…?) think that it’s not really a benefit to anyone, just a temporary measure, etc…

            Well guess what, 10+ years of printing ain’t “liquidity” it is structural funding.

          • “printing fixes ‘liquidity’ and redistributes wealth. It categorically does not fix insolvency.”
            Redistributing wealth categorically fixes insolvency, if done with that as a goal.

          • I don’t know what world you inhabit Peachy but it’s not the one I do. You can believe in the tooth fairy for all I care – I won’t judge you.

            ….
            @bjw
            The re-distribution I was referring to benefits two classes of people, the Top 5 or 10% (who own most of the assets) and, to a much lesser extent the recipients of benefits (via Newstart and various other Govt distribution schemes).

            To be clear: I am not advocating for this re-distribution, I am merely explaining what happens when the money printers get turned on. It is, ceteris paribus, a zero sum game so there must be a loser here. This is the working / middle classes who suffer from having the money they earn degraded via the loss of purchasing power – inflation, as it’s otherwise known.

          • I don’t know why you’re trying to disagree with me Dom, or what exactly you’re trying to disagree with.

            You seem to understand that printing devalues money/wages, so the salary earners are the losers. Whoever gets the printed money is the winner.

            It also pretty bloody self evident that if the gov prints $3b and lends it interest free to an insolvent university for 15 years, that is not providing “liquidity” – that is providing funding and, over time, addresses any solvency issues.

          • @dominic,
            you missed the third group that printing benefits, and also the ones receiving the greatest benefit. The direct recipients of the printed money.

          • Deary me, Peach. I must recommend a basic accounting course. A loan, of any sort, even at zero percent, will not improve a solvency situation. An equity injection, however, will do the trick. I realise this is an accounting technicality but it’s a valid one. Equity can be consumed but a loan always needs to be repaid.

            Direct public funding on the other hand is different again – Govt departments don’t have balance sheets. They just have budgets which they consume.

          • Oh, Dom….

            Think about it. Give the Uni a $3b interest free loan for 15 years. Even if uni is completely brainless it can just plonk that $3b in the bank and leave it there, earning 2%.

            15 years later, the uni still has $3b to repay the government ….and $1.03b interest that fills any solvency gap it might have had.

          • dominique is just a tard who cant buy a house. Why would you trust a single word that comes out of her mouth?

          • Thanks for both your replies fellas. I think it best we leave it right there.

            Oh, and the monkey at the end

    • If international students all go home the Vice Chancellors’ salaries will be eviscerated.

      Think of the VCs!

  3. reusachtigeMEMBER

    I find that the over-education that is traditionally inflicted upon university students infects their minds with mental ailments that stops them from thinking like normal successful people. It hinders their ability to just get on with a prosperous life. So a little dumbing down is actually what these people need.

    • It to the extent that a Uni education has declined precipitously in both value and quality your comments are spot on.

      Don’t waste your time or money just get on the property ladder and head to the massage joint.

      • Dom, Reusa, to build on both your themes, what do you think of an innovative new service offering – “ViBi” – kind of like Didi, but different. Capture the benefits of the oldest profession (massage services) by combining with high technology:

        0) have an app to book
        1) chinamen ladies (“students”…. wearing pigtails, at any rate)
        2) to come to you
        3) on a bicycle (possibly electric)
        4) perform massaging services
        5) leave

        (ViBi stands for Village Bicycle, by the way)

        Let’s get this off the ground. Dom, I think you know how to code a bit and Reusa knows the chinamen ladies. I will be the brains/creative director.

  4. “Interestingly, a new working paper by academics from Canada’s Queen’s University Department of Economics has also raised concern that the increasing concentration of international students has caused a “progressive erosion or dumbing down of academic standards”:” – blah,blah, blah.. so it is international students now. One day int students, second day is immigrants, next day immigrant dodgy builders and developers.. lol sickening and sad.
    But never greedy Universities, corrupt politicians, corrupt media that does not investigate and report on damage caused by ultra high immigration, and voluntary dumbing down of uni standards in pursuit of profit, non existent building regulation and no intent to enforce whatever little is left of it by our corrupt politicians and MSM pretending nothing to report. And off course not greedy voters who don’t want to experience any hardship in order to fix their own country and therefore vote corrupt politicians in a believe that somehow they will be allowed to continue to live on the back of wealth effect.

    Let’s blame everyone else but us because we are always right.

    Who is forcing our Universities to dumb down the standards. Who is voting these politicians that cut public funding for our Universities – is it foreign students? is it foreign builders and developers? or is it new immigrants when most don’t even have citizenship and right to vote?
    It is us – born here Aussies and people like me who spend more than half of their lives in Oz and made Australia home.

    Us mate not them is to be blamed.

  5. Universities are just one of many mechanisms that have perfectly moulded the cognitive map and assist in embedding the 10 principles which lead to the concentration of wealth and power into a neoliberal western corporatocracy:

    1. Reduce Democracy ✔
    2. Shape Ideology ✔✔✔
    3. Redesign the Economy
    4. Shift the Burden
    5. Attack Solidarity ✔✔
    6. Run the Regulators
    7. Engineer Elections
    8. Keep the Rabble in Line ✔
    9. Manufacture Consent
    10. Marginalise the Population ✔