People smuggler universities spread virus via international students

As we know, Australia last month implemented a travel ban on China, which at the time left more than 106,000 Chinese students unable to enter Australia to commence their studies.

Last week, it was revealed that 32,000 Chinese students had circumvented this ban, at a rate of around 1,000 arrivals a day, via travelling to third countries like Thailand and Dubai where they spent 14 days in purported ‘self-isolation’ prior to travelling into Australia:

Since mid-February, 31,196 Chinese students have landed in Australia, Department of Home Affairs figures show. In recent weeks, up to 1000 students a day have been arriving to start or return to their studies…

Mr Honeywood said the number of arrivals was “definitely encouraging” but noted there were still 75,000 students stuck offshore who were missing out on studies and potentially looking to study in other countries, including Britain and Canada, which had not imposed travel bans.

Tips on travelling to Australia via third countries have been shared widely on Chinese social media, with the United Arab Emirates, Cambodia and Thailand popular options for the 14-day wait.

This circumvention of the travel ban was of course aided and abetted by several universities, which offered grants of up to $7,500 to Chinese students to help fund travel packages to third-country transit destinations.

Subsequent social media posts showed examples of Chinese students ignoring self-isolation and instead partying and dining out, thereby exposing themselves (and by extension Australians) to contracting the coronavirus.

Indeed, last month a 20-year-old student from China tested positive for coronavirus in Queensland and was placed in isolation in the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. This student had travelled to Dubai for at least two weeks before entering Australia via Brisbane on February 23.

While this particular student was not a recipient of  a university grant, it is a pertinent example of how the universities have greatly increased the risk of the coronavirus spreading through Australia via international students circumventing the travel ban.

Sydney University Associate Professor, Salvatore Babones, rightly labelled the universities’ grants “morally indefensible” because they risk spreading the virus through poor, vulnerable countries like Thailand, in addition to Australia:

Associate Professor Salvatore Babones, from libertarian think-tank the Centre for Independent Studies, said it was “morally indefensible to encourage thousands of Chinese youngsters to travel at this difficult time, especially when they would be transiting through poor, vulnerable countries like Thailand”.

“It is thoroughly unethical for a university to encourage students to undertake risky, refugee-style travel in order to slip into Australia through a third country backdoor.”

Basically, Australia’s universities are behaving like people smugglers, risking the health of the Australian public in order to protect their treasured international student ‘cash cow’.

These shenanigans also highlight the entrenched ‘moral hazard’ that has infected Australia’s universities.

By encouraging students to circumvent the travel bans, they are seeking to privatise the gains from the extra international students fees. But if/when these students spread the virus through the broader community, it is the Australian taxpayers that will pay the costs via the increased burden on the health system, sickness and potentially deaths.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. It’ll bite them on the bum. There’s lots of older unfit people working at the Unis…ripe for plucking by the Chinese plague. Hopefully a few VCs among them.

    • Kids are immune:

      Out of nearly 45,000 confirmed cases in China through Feb. 11, there was only one death in someone younger than 20, and no deaths among children younger than 10

      It kills old cvnts:

      8 hours ago

      77-year-old woman has died in NSW from coronavirus.

      Three other Australians, aged 95, 82 and 78, have also died.

      • I think the theory is that there are 2 strains. The Chinese one kills mainly older people (but remember that brave young doctor) the Iranian/Italian strain kills younger people as well. The virus is said to have mutated.

        The kids are carriers and are really good at infecting people.

        • Correct. Reportedly the “L” strain and the “S” strain. Both are potent however it appears the most potent “S” is the most common one on the loose. Shown up in 70% of cases. Also explains possibly why some people have caught coronavirus twice. There appears to be other strains identified but nowhere as common as the other two. So possibly the virus is already mutating.

          • My understanding is although there are two strains they are not different enough, differences in death reaches are due to other factors & poor figures. But we’ll only know in the yearns to come.

            The other big unanswered question is what damage is done to the lungs, will children be left with weak lungs for the rest of their lives even if they are not dropping dead as one report I read suggested was possible.

  2. Take a look at Dan’s careful wording in the article below:

    Australian Minister for Education, Dan Tehan, told CNBC that the safety of Australians is the government’s number one priority and that it has always acted on the advice of the medical experts. “The Government has never encouraged students from mainland China to see out a 14-day period in a third country, as they could be impacted by future travel restrictions put in place by those countries,” Tehan said in a statement. “However, there is nothing within Australia’s current travel restrictions to stop them (from) doing so.”

    What Dan does not mention is that the university owned company AEI is not part of the government is it?

    And that IEAA chairman (Phil Honeywood, who was was a mate of his mum (Marie Tehan) when she spent time as a minister in the Kennett government) can do what they like….as (to cite Dan) “there is nothing within Australia’s current travel restrictions to stop them” i.e. nothing stopping AEI and their public relations firm (IEAA) from doing this either.

    It’s AEI and Lucky Phil who are up to their Honey-wood in these arrangements.

    In a CLASSIC case of incentivising bad behaviour and allowing public institutions to get around regulation, we have a private company owned by public institutions (universities), staffed with university employees (ex and present VCs) getting around regulations that a public organisation would not attempt to do for reputation reasons.

    In other words: Set up a dodgy private business and incentivise bad behaviour and allow our government to turn the other way as if they have no idea that this rort has undermined Australian public health. Allow the Minister to say that the government isn’t doing it….but no laws have been broken.

    And who does Dan appoint to the taskforce? Why, Lucky Phil!

    Nothing here to see?

  3. In theory, it’s harder now, as they would still have to do a 14-day “isolation”, upon arrival in Australia. In practice, I assume that these “isolations” will also be policed ineffectually.

  4. Somebody should be getting the word out to Aussie kids to defer before the census date! No point paying a boat load for a worthless degree, and not getting a student discount on beers because the pubs are all locked down.

  5. I am sure that there is going to be plenty of evidence for a nice big class action afterwards, for example some 10k people that got sick from a student that flouted the rules or was supported by a Uni, should be able to shut the Uni down for good. Maybe then the government will take it over and fund it properly for Australians only

  6. Have uni of Melbourne announced anything yet? I know if at least one American who has tested positive there.