Is this the end of international education?

Globalisation expert Professor Salvatore Babones has penned a thought provoking article in trade magazine – Times Higher Education – asking whether the coronavirus crisis spells the end of an era for international education:

Until now, the number of Chinese students studying abroad only ever moved in one direction: up… Many prestigious research universities have come to depend on Chinese student tuition for a substantial portion of their total revenues. At the University of Sydney, probably the most China-dependent university outside of China, roughly one quarter of total revenue is derived from fee-paying Chinese students…

Assuming that the international education market bounces back in a few months, China-dependent universities in Australia and New Zealand will take a one-time loss in the first semester of 2020 but otherwise move forward with their business models intact.

But there’s no guarantee that the pandemic will be over by June. With the coronavirus now apparently under control in China but spreading rapidly in Europe, North America and Australia, we may soon see China imposing travel restrictions on the countries that only weeks ago were imposing restrictions on China.

For China’s ruling Communist Party, that would represent not only a sensible public health provision, but a major propaganda victory.

It would also help them meet their long-term goal of bringing students home…

For some of Australia’s most China-dependent universities, it would be catastrophic. But for China, it would give a welcome boost to its own universities at a time of economic uncertainty while helping the country further shore up its restrictive currency regime. What is more, China faces a long-term decline in the size of its university-age student cohorts due to the historical legacy of its now-defunct one-child policy. In the coming decade, it will either have to bring its international students home or start closing its own universities.

Professor Salvatore Babones was the first to sound the alarm on the Australian education industry’s financial over-dependence on Chinese international students in his seminal research report for the Centre for Independent Studies last year. Now his prophecies are coming true.

As we know, China accounted for 27% of Australia’s total international student enrolments in 2019, and 37% of university international student enrolments:

China also accounted for one-third of Australia’s total education ‘exports’ (i.e. tuition fees and expenditure) in 2019:

Therefore, the collapse in the Chinese international student trade would cause extreme financial pain for Australia’s education industry.

To add insult to injury, Professor Babones also believes that students from other nations, such as India, could stop coming if the virus drags on and Australia is perceived as being too greater risk.

These issues were discussed in Professor Babones excellent interview with Martin North yesterday (video below).

Leith van Onselen
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  1. Has Martin got a new shirt?

    And those ironic Tron graphics are going to lure the shutin millennials in like catnip.

  2. Fishing72MEMBER

    Is Salvatore drunk ?

    The premise of massed Chinese tertiary education into Australia was never more than a thinly veiled ruse to inveigle a fifth column and to infiltrate the political, scientific and societal spheres of our nation and to this lead the nation blindly into Chinese Property

    • Picking Bottom

      Absolutely. They are here for PRs and doing the utmost for the motherland. Boboon is out of his depth

  3. The Hong Kong students that have been violently attacked, abused and doxxed by mainland Chinese students certainly won’t miss them.

  4. The mainland Chinese students have irrevocably damaged the very culture of our universities. Does anyone put a price that?

  5. Jumping jack flash

    Can Australian universities perform their vital function of the regulation of supply of professionals and scientists for Australia now?

  6. PalimpsestMEMBER

    There was a second emerging trend of on-line course delivery that made me question the rush to construct on campus accommodation. The Oz unis were going to be competing Internationally in any case. Some courses do need physical presence. Medical related, Science that requires specialist equipment or laboratory experience, some (but not all) Engineering. There are also hybrid courses where it’s mostly on line with staged on-campus tutorial workshops for a couple of days. There are specialist companies that perform proctoring of on line exams. So, yes. The existing “keep building physical structures” model faces some significant challenges:
    * The whole business world is pivoting to the online model for the short term, but this will change behaviours over a longer term. Both providers and consumers will assume online where possible.
    * Any gathering in numbers or travel is on hold or very difficult until there is mass vaccination
    * Depression rules apply. Only the fortunate will have the capacity to pay full service fees and there will be reluctance to take on debt in any way.

    Without a cohort of trained professionals – particularly in Science, Agriculture, and technology our ability to push through on the other side will be seriously compromised. “User pays” has been misused here. Graduates may well be paid more – the reason for implementing fees, but also society benefits. The current model has just been blown out of the water. It’s never going back to what it was 2 months ago, but we haven’t thought about what comes next.

    • For Engineers, I hope we go back to the old work/study model, more like a apprenticeship. Where a small percentage of the study is done in class, the rest is supervised on the job training. Government workshops were ideal for this, the private sector can do it but Govt needs to dilute the commercial impetus in order to make it work property.

  7. billygoatMEMBER

    Omg stop it with ma$$ vax in nations – machinations – hex nation. Step a$ide from m$m and ‘health professional’ hysteria andyry thinking for yourself. Co vid & my Corona will go the same way as sars aids Spanish flu etc and disappear into the ether and out of collective conscious to the point that few will recall what the fu$$ was about #wmd #bantheb$$b #neucla$$disarment #terra$$h

  8. Cancel all the foreign student & partner visas and send them back. Forced repatriation.
    1 million Australian citizens were ‘made unemployed’ in the last 2 weeks. Most of who have never claimed welfare in their lives.

    The ChinaVirus – allowed in by Morrison, aided & abetted by our totally incompetent health officials, migration agents, corrupted Universities etc – the virus is now spreading like myxomatosis thru a paddock of rabbit burrows.
    🇨🇳🦠 – XImatosis.

    And, just wait a month or so when its couple of million Australian citizens infected and they are trying to get health care.

    => When is the Australian government going to act on the TR, SCV & PR third world migrant overshoot?

    Current situation.
    4.5 million non Australian non citizens.
    4 million or 87% in just Sydney or Melbourne alone in vast fetid unassimilated migrant slums.

    You can argue all you like but facts are they are foreign born non Australian foreign nationals.

    Most (eg the Chinese and Indians) are on a sole Chinese or Indian passport.

    A long standing economic, social & now a bio-security risk.

    A 4.5 million third world useless ‘Overshoot’ – from decades of broken border controls & our totally corrupted visa system.

    🔻1.9 million third world Temporary Residents (TR) on pretext visas..
    (835,000 foreign student / partners, 270,000 so called protection visas,
    260,000 so called working holiday,
    170,000 so called skilled or partners & so on)
    All here only to steal an Australian job, to live & work in a foreign criminal run black market sub economy, to participate in illegal work, vice, money laundering.

    To repay their loan debt to a foreign agent procurer, to send back remittances, to churn their Visas & extend their stay, to snag a PR and to sponsor in more third world unskilled & useless as an additional social & economic burden to Australia.

    Most with no real health care coverage.

    Universities & schools shut down.

    Now competing with newly unemployed Australians for whatever jobs are left.
    The new poor & soon to be homeless Australians with no income spilling out onto the streets.

    These 1.9 million non Australians TR will absolutely overload our health care system.


    Foreign Nationals.

    The basis of their visa no longer exists.
    Cancel all their visas and start the forced repatriation.

    🔻Then we have another 670,000 so called ‘NZ SCV’ but 40% are non Zealand born third world unskilled Asians & Indians trafficked into Australia via NZ with the NZ passport stamp..
    Again no real health care cover.
    The non NZ born should never have been allowed into Australia in what was intended to be a program for Australian & NZ born citizens.

    🔻Then add on another 1.9 million third world unskilled migrant PR – including over a million being mostly old mainland born Chinese or Indian etc Nationals sole passport holders here as parasites on our welfare & healthcare.
    All non Australians. Non citizens.
    Why should they get Centrelink or Medicare?
    Non Australian citizens.
    Second stage clean out after the TR & NZ SCV.
    The PR Medicare & Centrelink should be downgraded (so Australia citizens are given priority) or denied.
    And the virus pandemic a good reason to cancel their PR & send them back.
    And that’s 4.5 million to be cleaned out.
    Non citizens. Foreign nationals.
    ▫️Restoring over 2.5 million jobs back to Australians.
    ▫️Restoring over 900,000 ex Australian dwellings back to Australians.

    And our hospitals, health care & social welfare capacity directed to Australian citizens in the 🇨🇳ChinaVirus🦠.

  9. Locus of ControlMEMBER

    Had to collect a parcel today from the post office, located on a university campus – the carpark was jam-packed. I couldn’t believe it – definitely people congregating in numbers there.

    Then went to the CBD to collect a repaired watch. Dead & car parks deserted – everyone clearly working from home.

    Universities are not ‘pulling together’ on this one. I fully believe they’re keeping everyone there to get them past the census date line, in order to grab all that sweet cashola. Money, money, money is what they’re about.