Vice-chancellor: International students a permanent residency scam

In August last year, Professor Salvatore Babones released alarming research showing that Australia has by far the highest concentration of international students in the developed world, with around two-and-a-half times the concentration of second-placed United Kingdom and around three times the concentration of third-placed Canada:

Since that report was released, the concentration of international students studying in Australia would certainly have increased, given total international student enrolments across all Australian educational institutions ballooned by 9.8% over the year to October to a record high 918,000:

In a similar vein, total international student enrolments at Australia’s universities surged by 11.5% year-on-year to 435,000:

This extreme concentration of international students has raised further concerns that greedy universities are dropping entry and teaching standards to drive enrolments, with one former university vice-chancellor claiming that many of these students only study in Australia in order to gain permanent residency:

Cash-hungry universities are offering more places to fee-paying foreigners than to local students in 64 courses nationally, data obtained exclusively by The Courier-Mail reveals…

The Courier-Mail can reveal that overseas students have taken 82.4 per cent of places in information technology courses at the University of the Sunshine Coast, and nearly two-thirds of IT places at James Cook University (JCU) and the University of Southern Queensland.

At the prestigious University of Queensland, which pockets $250 million a year selling places to Chinese students, foreigners outnumber local students in IT and management and commerce courses…

International education is a $22 billion business for Australian universities…

Foreigners, who are charged $15,000 to $33,000 for a basic bachelor degree, make up a third of the 1.5 million students enrolled in Australian universities…

CIS Emeritus Professor Steven Schwartz, a former vice-chancellor of Macquarie University in Sydney and Murdoch University in Perth, said foreign students flock to courses likely to lead to jobs and permanent residency, such as IT and management.

“Permanent residency is one of the main motivations to study in Australia,’’ he said.

“If suddenly permanent residency was given to people who study poetry, it’s likely they’d all be doing poetry.”

Australia’s education industry is now an integral part of the immigration system – effectively a way to purchase backdoor working rights and permanent residency to Australia.

In turn, the education industry has abandoned the pursuit of academic excellence and instead morphed into giant rent-seeking business focussed on pushing through as many students as possible in order to maximise fees and profit.

Australia’s policymakers must put a firm leash around the education industry, starting with removing the link between international students gaining working rights and permanent residency.

The education industry must be made to compete on quality and value alone and not be allowed to profit from cratering standards and acting as middle-men to foreigners pursuing backdoor migration.

Leith van Onselen

Comments

  1. “Australia’s policymakers must put a firm leash around the education industry, starting with removing the link between international students gaining working rights and permanent residency.”

    It’s called corruption. That’s what happens when you “deregulate” and “cut red tape” after you have “corporatised” public assets and set up a board and slashed public funding. The so-called “tertiary education market” is an outstanding success for all those VC’s getting paid outrageous fees and the hangers-on who are part of the food chain. To everyone else it is a fist-rate disaster and a piece of social, cultural and intellectual vandalism.

    It took the LibLabs and Greens to work together to deliver this sort of decay.

    • GunnamattaMEMBER

      +!

      It’s called corruption. That’s what happens when you “deregulate” and “cut red tape” after you have “corporatised” public assets and set up a board and slashed public funding. The so-called “tertiary education market” is an outstanding success for all those VC’s getting paid outrageous fees and the hangers-on who are part of the food chain. To everyone else it is a fist-rate disaster and a piece of social, cultural and intellectual vandalism.

      …….and dont forget ‘management’ which has become the open obeisance to the Cult of Personality – almost always unmeasured in any meaningful sense, almost always comprised of a high psychopath component, and always superbly remunerated – and also a nice little earner for the Universities through the MBA programmes (which are often little more than a collection of 1st year units, and invariably run long on group projects which become a game of getting someone else to do the work, and at core are often little more than ‘networking’ sessions)

    • Not to be a pedant, Clive, but I don’t think this has anything to do with red tape or deregulation. It’s the link with PR that’s the clincher. Sever that link and it’s problem solved – Unis have to sell their services on merit alone, which is the way a free market should work.

      The Unis are making out like bandits because the Govt is selling PR and a large proportion of the ‘sale price’ is being delivered straight into the coffers of our educational establishments. In the meanwhile the costs of such policy are being borne by the citizens.

      This 100% a policy issue. Nothing more.

      • “Unis have to sell their services on merit alone, which is the way a free market should work.”

        I don’t accept the first premise. The market is in ideas, not $. Universities should not sell a service or be part of a free market in the same way that State Schools should not be; they are public institutions that serve public and national values and interests independent of the free market. Scientific normative values and academic ethics are completely inconsistent with free-market economic ideology. Cultures of thought, invention and creativity will always run at a loss as most efforts fail. Begin to market successful institutions, built upon generations of public “investment” in a $ loss making enterprise, and you end up selling a branded lie that distorts and corrupts the heart of institutions built up over 100s (or 1000s) of years of service to domains that were never part of a free market. Their measure of success is not $ but local innovation, creativity and most of all self-actualisation of our own citizens. Note that last bit.

        • So, you agree then that PR is the central issue, then …?

          I would agree that there is certainly some friction between the fact a publicly funded institution is engaged in private enterprise. Perhaps these institutions should be exclusively one or other? A debate for another time.

          I should point out that the US is by head and shoulders the most innovative and entrepreneurial country on the planet, as a country it has more Unis in the Top 20 than any other in the world and it is the most capitalist country of any I could think of – outside of perhaps, Hong Kong and Singapore.

          The issue I have with the principle of the State funding educational establishments is that these establishments and all their employees have an unspoken bond with the State – in other words, they become beholden to the State. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you etc etc. In the old days, the relationship was more distant and the State respected the independence of these institutions. Today the relationship between State and Unis is a lot closer, a situation which has hardly done students or the economy any favours, I would suggest. The State cannot legislate that its people be ‘more innovative’ — innovation comes from freedom to think for oneself and the incentives to actually be innovative. If the State says: you are free to go out and innovate, then great. But if it qualifies this by saying: “Subject to the following constraints” (a thousand page document) then just get on a plane and go somewhere else.

          By the way, the list of entrepreneurs who arrived at Ivy League colleges and decided “this is BS” and went off and started wildly successful business without a college degree (and are now rich beyond belief) is as long as my arm – the point being that Uni did not ‘create’ these people. Bill Gates innovated off his own back – along with a substantial number of others.

          • It’s interesting how we have a different take on some pretty fundamental stuff. Forgive me for being a little lazy and picking out your words, but I think the following cuts to the essence of what we are discussing:

            “I should point out that the US is by head and shoulders the most innovative and entrepreneurial country on the planet, as a country it has more Unis in the Top 20 than any other in the world and it is the most capitalist country of any I could think of…”

            Where the vast majority of the Top 20 universities got their funds from was via government (taxpayer) investment in R&D that went back to WWII and the Cold War. Almost all (if not actually all) of the major technologies (computer, semiconductor, radar, avionics, optoelectronics, energy, materials science etc) came from military R&D and funds directed to universities that saw industry begin around US universities and manufacturing that made the USA wealthy and lifted the standard of living for workers. It is a myth that people like Bill Gates ‘did it all themselves’. No, they tapped into and exploited R&D outputs that had already been invested in by public money and public institutions. The outputs from these public institutions were given (yes, given) to private industry to exploit with no return to the wider public – other than economic activity. Public funding drove science and innovation and developed all of the major technologies that were taken up by industry. The myth that private industry did it all with free market economics is just that – a myth.

            Industry would like this party to continue and, largely, so do governments as ‘selling stuff’ is how economic activity is produced. But if you study the history of where virtually all the major scientific and technological discoveries came from, they were publicly funded and most overseen by inefficient public institutions. Yes, they are inefficient – because over 90% of ideas never come to anything! Most experiments fail and most patents are not worth the paper they are written on.

            Computers go back to Bletchley Park and obscure papers on “universal machines” written before WWII. They go back even further to obscure 19th century algebra:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boolean_algebra

            Industry had no interest in computers until all the fundamental work had been done.

            The US is (almost) head and shoulders above other nations because of the massive injection of public funds that began in the 1940s (often military in nature) and has continued to this day. The free-market takes inventions and technologies and makes iPhones and iPads – as perhaps the best example of what free-market adherents like to call “innovation”. This is not the same innovation that, using public money, invented the science and technologies.

            The utter bollocks found in the work of Ayn Rand plays to the narrative that genius belongs to the developers of consumer products who build companies based upon their ideas. In reality genius belongs to those who had the enabling ideas who usually get paid little and are anonymous.

            Universities are in a market and contest for those enabling ideas. A free market based upon money and spin only furthers a lie that is provably false. The free market has done more to kill ideas than produce them as it is not interested in the loss making and risk taking to sort the few good ideas from the sea of dross that we call ‘academia’.

          • Most base innovation comes out of publicly funded – either directly (public institutions) or indirectly (subsidies, tax breaks, etc) – funded efforts.

            Business in general is risk-averse and works on short timelines (and increasingly more so). Hence the need for public funding to pursue most risky (ie: new) and long term objectives.

          • This fallacious idea that Govts are responsible for most innovation is simply another way of saying that if Govt didn’t exist we’d still be living in caves which, I’m sorry, is a total crock. My all time favourite: if Govt didn’t exist, roads wouldn’t exist / get built etc, yada yada. There is no doubt that some innovation that occurred via the taxpayer purse has subsequently been co-opted by the private sector and they’ve used that in a commercial sense – after all, why re-invent the wheel when it’s already been done. Commercially, companies will spend as little as possible to make as much money as possible, as any fule knos. Let’s have a quiet think though about the circumstances in which the Govt might dust a truckload of taxpayer money to invent something. Something that couldn’t produce a commercial return perhaps – something that is needed by some people, but not by enough people that it makes commercial sense for private money to invest in. Of course, if the Govt fronts $10bn to invent or research something then, hey presto, the math looks slightly different to private enterprise. So the Govt dusts $10bn for ‘something’ – great. Was it value for money for the taxpayer? Could it have been done for a fraction of the price? Do enough citizens benefit from this ‘thing’ to justify the expense? It’s a bit like sending men to the moon – a great thing to do, a fantastic achievement even – but an expensive vanity project at the end of the day. What have we really learned that’s enhanced our every day lives? Where is the progression from the Space Shuttle project? Perhaps the money would’ve been better spent improving education and healthcare? Or even left in the working man’s pocket, so that he could give his kids a treat or improve his own life. Just a thought.

            The US Government did not make Microsoft or its product, did not make Apple successful, did not develop the modern TV technology we have today, did not make any of the most successful US companies – even if Obama claimed otherwise — these developments and perpetual innovation are driven by competition and the desire to build capital. Even if you can dig out examples of innovations that actually originated in the public sector somewhere (circumstances discussed above) I guarantee the private sector has picked them up and improved them a hundred fold to make a buck out of them. It is quest to survive (commercially) that drives innovation — if you don’t innovate you die. Period. (Ask Eastman Kodak). The only ‘dead’ organisations that survive are those enjoying the patronage of the State via financial or regulatory assistance (monopolies).

            I struggle to fathom how anyone can come down on the side of the State, given all the corruption and eye-watering stupidity we’ve witnessed recently and indeed throughout history. The NBN is a $50bn white elephant – convince me otherwise — and there are thousands of similar taxpayer funded catastrophes the world over, involving either corruption and/or criminal incompetence. I get it, people want to believe the State to a benevolent entity but States are run by fallible human beings, not by robots so your best bet is a beneficial dictator. Outside of that you’re dealing with a bunch of crooks and idiots.

            The point I’m trying to make is that all the stuff we need will be developed / invented, with or without Govt. There is no point continuing this discussion if that isn’t plainly obvious as the ideological impasse is too great.

  2. James DaveyMEMBER

    On a more positive note about this situation; at least those (referred to above) obtaining permanent residency are very likely to be contributors to society rather than others who milk the welfare system.

  3. Here’s a tip on the Murdoch Uni saga.

    The senior leadership may have dropped the financial component of the action against the whistleblower but they are now moving to sack all of the whistleblowers on the sly. ‘Cause, in my opinion, they are psychopathic chunts.

    The school of maths & stats (real name?) is being disbanded due to ‘lack of enrollments’, nevermind that it is a service discipline to every hard science school, course, and major. Literally thousands of students.

    By shutting the school and switching to ‘teaching only’ contracts, the academics can have their contracts cancelled, regardless of tenure.

    And what school did the whistleblowers come from?

    Jokes on them though, head whistleblower just got a major research grant that should see him become untouchable, for a few years at least.

    • It’s worse than most know. For decades casual staff have been used to deliver teaching components. They have no power or job security to question the centralised planning that demands that students pass regardless of their ability. Most researchers have little interest in mass education systems – only mentoring in small groups. It means that universities are now a sausage factory for degrees that fund research. In order to afford to do research people have to accept selling degrees like a McDonald’s hamburger chain. Behind this mess is both the LNP and ALP who deregulated universities to open up the rivers of gold to be made by exploiting overseas students. To do so they have exploited casual teaching staff. Teaching at a university is now similar to waiting tables at a large fast food joint. Thanks Bob Hawke and Paul Keating – you did much better than Burke and Wills in that you truly managed to double-cross Australia with you “reforms”.