Desperate universities mull flying in Chinese international students

The prestigious Group of Eight (G8) universities may organise charter flights to bring Chinese students to Australia when the federal government’s coronavirus travel ban is lifted. It is estimated that about 70,00 students at the Go8 universities have been affected by the travel ban. Some of the nation’s universities will offer grants or fee reductions to students who have been affected by the ban:

Universities are offering fee discounts and reimbursement of airfares, and the Group of Eight is considering an airline offer of charter flights to bring tens of thousands of students to Australia, as the higher education sector wrestles with the coronavirus…

All Group of Eight universities say they are attempting to deal on an individual basis with students affected by the coronavirus travel bans.

The vice-chancellor of Monash University in Melbourne, Margaret Gardner, said… international students were essential to the Australian economy and the money from fees allowed universities to buy services from domestic suppliers such as security, cleaning, technical and so on…

The Group of Eight universities say they have been inundated with offers from airlines for charter flights to bring students to Australia. It is estimated 70,000 people are enrolled in Go8 universities for semester one.

Here is another reason why the Morrison Government should not lift the travel ban anytime soon. With the coronavirus reaching pandemic levels, the last thing Australia needs is tens-of-thousands of students from the epicentre of the virus inundating our universities.

Professor Salvatore Babones said it best last week when he explained the moral hazard gripping Australia’s universities:

Chinese student enrolments in Australian higher education have increased six-fold in the past two decades. Chinese students almost always pay full fees and are disproportionately concentrated in high-margin course-work master’s programs. At least eight Australian universities rely on Chinese student tuition revenue for 11 to 26 per cent of their total revenue.

The coronavirus epidemic, and the travel bans it prompted, threaten to derail that particular gravy train. So it comes as no surprise that university vice-chancellors have lobbied aggressively to have Australia’s travel ban lifted for Chinese students. This, despite the fact that most have prohibited their own staff and students from travelling to China — or even to Hong Kong. And despite the fact that university studies have been suspended in China and Hong Kong themselves.

How can it be that Hong Kong and Australian vice-chancellors have come to such radically different evaluations of their ability to safely manage coronavirus exposure? In another two words: moral hazard.

Moral hazard is the expectation that organisations (and their leaders) will reap the rewards of their successes while others will bear the burdens of their failures. If the government lifts its travel ban and 100,000 Chinese students fly into Australia, university revenues will continue the robust growth that has propelled Australia up the international rankings.

But if those students introduce coronavirus into the general population, Medicare — which means taxpayers — will pick up the bill. If Australian universities were required to reimburse the government for the costs of treating any coronavirus cases that could be traced back to their Chinese students, they would probably be much less eager to lift the travel ban.

Basically, Australia’s universities see a ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ situation, whereby they stand to benefit financially from lifting the travel ban, whereas taxpayers and the broader community will bear the costs of a coronavirus outbreak.

The Morrison Government should ignore the universities’ vested interest pleas and prioritise the health and safety of the Australian public.

Leith van Onselen
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Comments

  1. Mining BoganMEMBER

    I’m still absolutely bamboozled at how our universities could get themselves in such a desperate situation that the only answer is risking the entire population.

    My old standby of “greed and ignorance” doesn’t cover this sort of sf!tf#ckery.

    • It will be interesting to see whole universities quarantined. VC’s and politicians beware of what you are doing.
      My wife works in disability care and a lot of their support workers are university students.

  2. happy valleyMEMBER

    “The Morrison Government should ignore the universities’ vested interest pleas and prioritise the health and safety of the Australian public.”

    The government and the uni VCs are on the same page?

  3. The G8’s concern to place the education of international students ahead of the health of ordinary citizens is commendable in the same way that we should admire James Hardy’s persistence to use of asbestos products and Philip Morris for a toxic business model.

    Here’s the rub. Very little mortality from the coronavirus is experienced in younger people. Younger people more commonly shed the virus, often without symptoms, and probably spread it more effectively. Those > 70 years old are highly susceptible to mortality. Our universities are bringing in a disease into highly populated institutions and communities to be amplified and then spread to the wider community where it will kill large number of older people.

    At times like this the priorities of institutions is very clear – profit over people. It could not be more blatant. Their business model is our risk.

    • The G8’s concern to place the education of international students ahead of the health of ordinary citizens is commendable in the same way that we should admire James Hardy’s persistence to use of asbestos products and Philip Morris for a toxic business model.

      And the Fossil Fuel industry wanting us to continue to consume their products for their profit at the expense of the planet!! And a donation or 2 to the LNP will help them achieve their aims.

    • The stats of spread and mortality outside China diverge from the China outbreak. This suggests that the impact and effect of the virus is being under reported by the Chinese.

  4. So I have two lads studying at UTS and about 40% of their cohort are Chinese. So, hmmm. I think the solution is that if the Chancellors of UTS etc think this a such good idea then they should demonstrate their joy by personally meeting each overseas student in a welcome home event. My boys will be require to sit next to them in class , so the Chancellors can experience the same pleasure.

  5. I’m wondering if wages for the sort of jobs students do ha ve risen, though as many work in restaurants (to earn our “export” dollars😂) which have seen a fall in business maybe no real pressure to raise wages.

  6. The Morrison Government should ignore the universities’ vested interest pleas and prioritise the health and safety of the Australian public.

    I just laughed that hard a little bit of pee came out.

  7. Let them all in. Let the virus ravage the population. When funeral after funeral is held maybe then the sheep population of this country will finally wake up to the foul politicians and governments that have destroyed everything that once was great with their thieving corporate mates and soul destroying imigration Ponzi schemes taking away the future from everyone.

    Burn it to the ground. Burn it all !!!

  8. Do these Uni’s not realise that if they bring the disease in and it causes an outbreak, then their entire Uni will be shut down completely? Isn’t it better to teach locals and lose a bit of international fee’s rather than not being able to teach anyone and be the cause of an epidemic in Australia?

    • Omg have you learned nothing at the world leading Australian institutions of learning? Logical thought that prioritizes long term benefit is bad/wrong/racist and greed is good is good/correct/perfect

    • They won’t care.
      As long as they make it a couple of weeks into the semester and past the financial cut-off date they get to keep the enrollment fees. Deal with the real problem later.
      Special consideration? Everyone gets a pass, nobody is accountable.

  9. It must be quite an education for University VCs to witness the schadenfreude much of the Australian community is feeling at their plight. Let’s face it, what’s not to like when professional know-it-all poseurs get their noses rubbed in it. More so given their willingness to lower academic standards, corrupt this country’s once great immigration program and help destroy their compatriots job opportunities and living standards.

    You’re not in Kansas anymore guys, and, what’s more, you’re not nearly as attractive as Judy.

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