Chinese international student bubble to pop on virus

When it comes to international student enrolments, Australia is a world-beater.

As shown recently by Professor Salvatore Babones, the concentration of international students at Australia’s universities is the highest in the developed world at roughly 2.5 times second-placed United Kingdom and around three times third-placed Canada:

The main driver of Australia’s booming international student enrolments is China, which comprised 11% of total Australian university enrolments in 2017, well above all other developed nations:

The next chart plots the explosive growth in Chinese international student enrolments versus second-placed India and third-placed Nepal:

Since 2013, Chinese international student enrolments across Australia’s education industry ballooned by 120,500 to a record high 254,800. This student growth easily exceeded India (90,700) and Nepal (52,300) over the same period, with total Chinese student enrolments roughly double India’s and four times Nepal’s as at October 2019.

China ($12.1 billion) also accounted for one-third of Australia’s $37.6 billion education exports in 2019, once again easily eclipsing exports from India ($5.5 billion) and Nepal ($2.6 billion):

With this extensive background in mind, the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA) CEO, Phil Honeywood, is among those concerned that the Australia’s education export industry could be hard hit by the Chinese coronavirus:

The $15 billion Chinese-student market is under threat as universities and schools lock in emergency plans to protect against the coronavirus, including “self-quarantining”…

The Council for International Students in Australia, meanwhile, warned against using the word “quarantine”, saying it would jeopardise Australia’s position in global education markets and drive future students to other countries…

Chair of the taskforce and chief executive of the International Education Association of Australia, Phil Honeywood, said the coronavirus was a threat that went way beyond tourism.

“China is our number one source country for international students. They represent at least a third of a $40 billion a year export market for Australia”…

Mr Honeywood said reputational damage would be widespread domestically…

Yesterday we learned that China’s Ministry of Education had already cancelled all English-language proficiency exams scheduled for February in a bid to contain the outbreak:

The exams include the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT).

The IELTS test scheduled for Jan. 31 was also called off, according to the ministry.

Noting the prevention and control of the epidemic is the top priority at the present time, the ministry asked for the understanding of test takers and promised to update new test plans based on the progress of epidemic control.

This means that the flow of Chinese enrolments into Australia’s universities will be stemmed, and comes after new enrolments had already fallen by 2.2% in the year to October 2019:

Whereas Chinese student visa applications also fell by 3.3% in the year to June 2019:

While it is still early days, the coronavirus risks bursting the Chinese international student bubble, which was already on a fragile footing.

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  1. What I find most annoying about Unis is that they have been so slow to move to a mostly online model. Who really needs to sit in a lecture theatre? I suspect their reluctance to embrace technology is due to their need to justify their course fees and give reason for international students to have bums on seats.

    • international students must have a minimum of face to face contact hours every semester due to visa regulations. and let’s not forget that immigration is a major incentive for those students in the first place, online certificates will therefore have few takers.

    • How would they pass their course without being in a group with Australian students to do all the work?

    • Lenny Hayes for PMMEMBER

      Who really needs to go to a university anymore to undergo a model of education that is 100’s of years old.

      Plenty of amazing micro credential courses on-line that rival anything Unis can pump out.

  2. The ‘Foreign students’ being a ‘$40 billion export’

    I wish Macrobusiness would stop repeating this lie or at least provide a counter statement to that with the real facts.

    The foreign students & partners are not an export at all, but at least a $35-40 billion negative social & economic liability.

    This ‘foreign student export income’ lie was first stated by Deloitte Access Economics in their Australia Education Gov propaganda piece.

    And it gets quoted ad nauseam & extrapolated up ever time the foreign student & partner numbers go up.

    Look – read the Deloittes Access Economics report for yourself (link below) and see just how ridiculous their lies are, and what is made up or missing.

    The source of the lies.

    A 2015 farrago of mistruth & omission by Deloitte Access Economics as propaganda paid for by the Australian Education Dept.  

    Then prorated each years by growth in foreign students & partners since 2025 be a ‘ $38 billion export (2018) & now with numbers at nearly 900,000 its gone up to $40 billion…

    Here is the basis of this lie.

    It describes the foreign student ‘economic activity’ but not their declared funds or their actual source of funds & income which is primarily (75% of 505,000 of the then 672,000 foreign students & partners onshore were working illegally (2017)

    672,000 foreign students & partner across all visa categories. March 2017.
    8% year to year growth so 725,000 now in March 2019. Exponential growth now to over 900,000.

    Actual fee income? ($8.2 billion – Mode 2 onshore foreign students in the report, the other modes are fractional) and the all the rest of ‘economic value’ like family visits & so on larded on nonsense. 

    Almost all the money to just pay those fees was EARNED HERE, as they only come in with under $2.4 billion in declared funds often rorted (DHA declared funds data) 

    See mode 2 Fees  :  $4.7 billion – $5.7 billion then, Page 74 footnote 24 hidden down the bottom) /  
    And now with growth of numbers est at $8.2 billion) matching to then the costs & profit taken in delivering the ‘education service’.

    That’s all.

    So they add on an arbitrary $8.7 billion human capital value (page 49) as they get the PR, but don’t mention only 3.9% ever progress to a high income professional vocation (so 96% do not).

    And even the Productivity Commission found foreign students were a very low quality unskilled & unsuitable intake. 
    Negative human capital value in reality.

    No mention in the report of the social & economic impact in degrading Australian Education, congestion, housing contention & fraud / living illegally.

    No mention for example of the $9.6 billion in Australian unemployment costs in the jobs they steal or the tens of billions of lowered wages & other impacts.  

    👉🏾That single cost alone exceeds the entire fee income.

    No mention that the foreign students are the epi-centre of crime & the foreign run vice industry being willing participants in that trafficking. The epi-centre of the foreign run vice and crime industry in Australia.

    🔻No mention of the cost impact to Australians of being denied education as the education sector prostitutes itself as a migrant visa alibi.

    🔻No mention the vast bulk of foreign students are doing very low level easily cheated courses available in their home country or free online. 

    They are not here for the education which is a laughing stock globally, many on ‘courses’ that don’t even any international recognition. 

    🔻No mention that the average foreign students after 10 years only achieves a 3.6% rate of profession in to a high income professional vocation in their home country or here. That’s right – 96% of all foreign students remain useless, low income or unemployed on welfare after 10 years (Migrant Pathways a Decade on 2015) and leading later to the Productivity Commission Report and conclusion that foreign students are NOT a suitable or skilled intake for PR.

    🔻No mention of the tens of billions of wages impact by foreign student working illegally to Australians in overall lowered wages. By tens of billions in cost impact and no wages growth for over a decade.

    🔻No mention that the 900,000 foreign students have lowered our entire GDP per Capita by some 3.7%

    🔻No mention of the tens of billions of cost impact to Australians in housing contention & illegal migrant slum share housing usage (some 150,000 ex Australian modest established dwellings now run as foreign owned & migrant only cash in hand slum share, creating some 116,000 Australian permanent homeless & another 360,000 Australians now seeking affordable housing.
    There’s another $4 billion lost.

    🔻No mention of transport & road congestion, overloaded infrastructure & power.
    Or Dams & water usage and other environmental impact – also costing tens of billions.

    🔻No mention that Australian education has liberally been destroyed by the poison of prostituting itself as a a migrant guestworker visa alibi – and has fallen 10 places globally in rankings and continues to fall.
    That also costing tens of billions to Australians.

    It then gets worse.

    A modest goal of 1 million foreign students in the medium term.

    👉🏾Not an export
    👉🏾Never an export

    The foreign students and partners are third world slum & rural poor, who pay large bribes for falsified health checks, identity documents, false qualifications to enter Australia to live & work illegally.

    They enter poor & in debt.
    They live illegally in filthy fetid foreign criminal pended slumshare in migrant enclaves.

    The vast majority (over 75%) work illegally in visa breach.
    Many are trafficked in for vice or black market labor rings.
    They work to repay agent procurer loan debt, and to send back remittances to their families.

    Their intent is to gain a PR, sponsor others in chain migration (& agent loan debt relief by being a sponsor for the bribes paid) and to then exist in Australia welfare & free Medicare whilst continuing to live & work in the foreign criminal run black economy.

    They cost Australian in economic and social impact at least some $40 billion NEGATIVE a year.

    Or $44,000 each a year as an ‘impact cost’ to Australia.

    That’s right – every one of those Chinese or Indians or Nepalese students or partners coming in thru customs.

    He or she is going to cost Australians about $850 a week in their negative social and economic impact.


    I hope Macrobusiness can at every opportunity correct the lies that foreign students & partners are an export.

    They are not.
    They are a massively negative cost burden to our Australian economy & society.

    • boomengineeringMEMBER

      Mike, hats off to you for your research as I know how hard it is to wade through the BS and misinformation when delving into Pre Cook Australian history of multiple Dutch settlements inc 1,000 separate sightings etc.etc etc.
      Tens of thousands artifacts purposely destroyed.

    • ‘See mode 2 Fees : $4.7 billion – $5.7 billion then, Page 74 footnote 24 hidden down the bottom) /’
      mike, i can’t find this in the deloitte report.

  3. Just wondering whether the reverse might happen. That is, the prevalence of virus’s of this nature in China could lead to an additional push factor to get away to cleaner and healthier places like Australia.

    • Now you’re thinking straight.

      Who wants to stay in a country where the government can and does coup you up in a disease-ridden city? For just ~usd500,000 you can leave that place and go to the land of milk and honey… whatcha gonna do?

        • That’s right.

          And you also get so much closer to the delicious koalas – cheap free range ones here, compared to expensive caged ones back in the old country.

      • You betcha you’d want to immigrate to a country with free medical care, and real hospitals. Not some medical tents pitched in a field. Plus not being surrounded by people who like to eat live bats would clearly be a bonus

    • the rice has given me accelerated evolution for four thousand years… it has enabled you to live two hundred years… the rice helps make the sapho juice, which gives the red-lipped mentats the ability to be living computers… the secret side of rice… the water of life.

  4. reusachtigeMEMBER

    It is important that we ignore the hype around this virus and continue to encourage a greater number of Chinamen students as they are good for business.

  5. My sister has ~100 international students that have just returned from China in the past 2 weeks, she doesn’t seem to worried, but is now advising that they must not come to school for 14 days until cleared.
    TBH, the deaths are mostly in Wuhan, seeing those videos of hospitals and the shear number, probably won’t escalate to much further internationally, China just left it too late.

  6. TailorTrashMEMBER

    The thing that might kill off some of the Chinese Education trade will be the Indian /Nepalese Education trade ……..why would Chinese pay a shipload for a degree and sit in classes full of Indians …….How many Chinese go to India for their education .?….not many………some who just want the immigration ticket may still come …..but genuine students seeking learning will be going else where

  7. This might prove to be relevant. Chinese friends of mine have told me of the hierarchy of Asian nationalities. Whilst Indians weren’t listed in their run down, I asked where they sat, to be told they are the worst of the worst, along with Africans.