It’s time to gag international student lobbyists

Chief lobbyist for the international education industry, Phil Honeywood, has threatened the governments with “serious questions” if they refuse to open borders to international students:

International Education Association chief executive Phil Honeywood told The Australian that the states should agree on a uniform plan to bring foreign students in, or threaten the sector’s reputation with overseas families.

“Clearly it’s in the interest of Australia’s $40bn international education industry to have all states and territories supporting pilot intakes,” he told The Australian…

“Universities and private providers in states that have chosen not to bring forward proposals to the national cabinet have the right to ask their state governments serious questions.”

Why are we still listening to lobbyists like Phil Honeywood? Their behaviour leading up to the COVID-19 shutdown was quite frankly deplorable.

Recall that they demanded that Australia’s international border remain open as the pandemic was initially spreading like wildfire, thus placing at risk Australian’s health:

The head of Australia’s peak foreign student body [the Council of International Students Australia]… Ahmed Ademoglu, who represents 700,000 international tertiary students in Australia, said they felt “exploited” and would discourage future students from enrolling here.

International students were aggrieved in particular by the detention of Chinese students in Australian airports and the block on Chinese student visas since the travel ban was introduced on February 1, according to Mr Ademoglu…

Phil Honeywood, chair of the reputation taskforce appointed by Mr Tehan to manage the impact of coronavirus on the education sector, said he also raised concerns over the blocked visas on Wednesday.

Phil Honeywood also campaigned alongside the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to keep Australia’s border open:

China has slammed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to extend the travel ban on all non-Australians arriving from China, urging the government to “respect” the World Health Organization’s recommendations…

Chief executive of the International Education Association of Australia and chair of the task force aimed at managing the effects of the ban on the education sector, Phil Honeywood, told ABC Radio on Friday that Australia would suffer the greatest effects of the coronavirus travel bans, compared to other international study destinations.

“China is very much our number one student source country,” Mr Honeywood said. “Unfortunately, we’ve got Canada and the United Kingdom very much competitors as study destination countries and they are still very happily taking Chinese students.”

Once those lobbying efforts failed, the university sector then helped spread the coronavirus by offering cash payments of up to $7,500 to help Chinese students circumvent Australia’s travel ban, which was labelled “morally indefensible” by Professor Salvatore Babones:

…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.”

Yet now the industry wants to get back to business as usual as if none of it happened.

This is despite a 192-page research report from Australia’s Group of Eight (Go8) universities urging the federal government to keep Australia’s international border closed:

A “Roadmap to Recovery” report from the Group of Eight (Go8) universities urges the federal government to maintain border restrictions for at least another six months…

“Maintaining restrictions on incoming and outgoing travellers gives the Australian government flexibility to pursue either a full elimination strategy or suppression strategy.”

Let’s be honest for a moment. The economic benefits of Australia’s gargantuan international student industry are exaggerated and the costs ignored.

International students work here to sustain themselves and pay their fees. Thus, they are not a genuine “export” if their money is earned here. The fact that most now need financial assistance is evidence of this point.

Meanwhile, international students are ripe for exploitation and compete directly for jobs with young Australians. They drive down wages and arguably GDP per capita and tax revenue for the government.

They also send billions in remittance payments out of the country (an import), add to congestion in our major cities, increase competition for housing, are behind the drop in university entry and teaching standards, and in the case of mainland Chinese students, have eroded democratic values and freedom of speech (as witnessed at the University of Queensland).

While there are certainly economic benefits from the international student trade, there are also economic and social costs that must be considered.

Australia should, therefore, better balance these costs and benefits by aiming for a lower number of higher quality international students. This can be achieved by:

  1. Lifting financial requirements to ensure that international students can support themselves throughout their courses and are not dependent on working to pay their bills; and
  2. Raising English-language requirements.

Such reforms would:

  1. Reduce competition in the labour market, boosting opportunities for younger Australians;
  2. Reduce wage theft and exploitation, since international students would no longer need to work illegally in ‘cash in hand’ jobs;
  3. Maximise export revenues per student, since tuition fees and living expenses would be paid for by funds from abroad, rather than from money earned in Australia; and
  4. Lift the quality of student, since most would come to Australia for the primary purpose of studying, rather than to gain backdoor working rights and permanent residency.
Unconventional Economist
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  1. Leith. I completely agree with you here but I wonder this article here has any real impact. Does anyone who reads this have any real power or influence.

    • Have you sent it to said people? If you can’t even manage that then the commentariat defeatism can go elsewhere.

      • Relax Chris. Just a little food for thought. Some very smart people on this site that may be able to come up with some solutions. Unlike your comment which was full of rage and not helpfully at all.

    • If one wants to spread this to a wider audience, one has to look at sharing it on social media. With something like Twitter, one can hashtag #auspol and tag in various MP accounts (@___) or even go further and pick a fight with dopes like DrDemography and the rest of the immigration boosters.

      When I look at the MB twitter account, I don’t see it getting much shared at all which is a failure of to utilise the platform effectively. I didn’t think MB has much of a presence on YouTube either, after seeing the debate on the NucleusWealth channel. Martin North’s DFA channel and John Adam’s Interest of the People have built up quite a following, and this kind of content here would probably reach a much wider audience and be much appreciated too.

      I don’t think the usual process of churning out new articles each day does any good, as it only buries older content to the back page which won’t get read by anyone. Tomorrow’s weekend links and the Sunday supplement will probably get 500+ comments again, but by that stage this article will have fallen down the page.

      • MB readerMEMBER

        I like the sound of this. I would be interested to know what MB is doing to broaden its circulation.

      • Imagine if the real numbers for the value of the sector went to Gladys Bagofletters. If she saw how it really wasn’t an export, she may not open the gates to foreign students in NSW?

        But we need real numbers, a proper analysis, not statements like, ‘it’s not an export’.

        Somewhere between a vague analysis and a Mike analysis, would be good.

        • 😊
          Ha anyone familiar with the MB forum has probably read this, but for anyone new.

          The economic, social and health impact of the foreign students and partners to Australians.

          We have onshore 865,000 foreign students & partners. Source Aust Education Gov
          (Enrolment numbers used by some are not accurate, some are enrolled in multiple courses, some no courses at all)

          803,000 are primary visa holders – and over 90% from third world countries. Source DHA / ABF.

          75% work illegally FTE or more in blatant visa breach. Source (UTS & Sydney Uni study) stealing over 600,000 FTE Australian jobs.
          Another 62,000 foreign nationals are on TR secondary visas as so called ‘foreign students partners’ with no English requirements, full work rights.
          Heavily frauded.
          Another 60,000 Australian jobs stolen.

          They pay $13.2 billion in fees, (most haven’t paid at the moment are in visa breach). Those fees are from money earned here, by working illegally in visa breach as we will see.

          So the effect is to steal Australian jobs and lower wages and employment tenure for everyone else.
          That is a direct economic impact of 660,000 Australian unemployed x $19k a year (the old Centrelink Newstart) or $12.5 billion cost impact to the Australian taxpayers.
          Almost the same as to total ‘fees’ paid by all the foreign students.

          With the current jobseeker payment the cost impact is boosted to $18.5 billion cost – so the Australian unemployed outlays are now in excess of all foreign student fees paid.

          The wages impact is higher.
          No wages growth for years as the PR and then the TR flooded in. The 2.5 million TR/SCV exceed the 1.9 million PR grants by 31%.
          An estimate by Access is that the TR migrant guestworkers have lowered Australian citizen & PR (full work rights) wages by 3.2% in lower & unskilled, mature and part time income ranges,or by some $23 billion.

          So the foreign students are at least a $40 billion negative economic and social impact.
          Each foreign student or partner coming thru arrivals with the TR form in his foreign passport is costing Australians $46,000.

          Then we can add:
          Destruction of Australian Education quality and affordability,
          public transport congestion,
          power, water capacity
          ill conceived taxpayer funded projects (Sydney light rail to ferry foreign students to & from their CBD bunkshare to UNSW)
          And tens of billions more.

          What exactly are the Foreign Students ‘learning?’
          Only 40% of the primary visa holders are actually studying anything that could be considered ‘education’.
          Source Australia Gov Education website on participation in ‘university or other courses’.

          Most of the courses are rote & easily cheated long duration courses – designed to minimise the actual education and maximise their ability to stay here & work illegally.

          The primary factor in curriculum design is to stretch the duration of what would be a 6 week or 12 week course to be 3-4 years with many stages and steps, ‘ELT prep, advanced ELT, then ‘certificates’, ‘diplomas’, ‘advanced diplomas’ etc to allow as much legal (40 hours fortnight) ‘whilst classes are held’, ‘work experience’ and then non legal work in visa breach whilst in Australia.

          Which means almost every foreign student on a primary visa with conditional or limited work rights can easily work a Full time equivalent job or a number of jobs, typically a legal ‘cover part time job’ & a number of illegal cash in hand jobs – to displace a full time equivalent (FTE) Australian.

          Most of the courses have NO international accreditation.

          Only a tiny fraction of the foreign students are doing genuine post grad education, less than 35,000.

          All the rest – fake. Only here on a visa pretext.
          Remove work rights & enforce it?
          They wouldn’t be here.

          “Oh but they are a $40 billion etc ‘export industry’ that employs over 200,000 people”

          That is also not true.
          The entire foreign student industry only employs 43,000 people and most of those are rejects from our national system or are migrant guestworkers themselves on a ‘sponsored visa’ scam.
          There is widespread cheating, out tasking of assignments, false identities or ring ins to sit the very rare (by design) tests and exams.
          Many of the ‘educators’ and administration staff in these ‘international student’ colleges & institutes are also on the take for the obligatory $50 a month from the students to ‘mark off the roll’ whilst they are working illegally. And take money for ‘coaching’ and ‘help Witt assignments.
          It’s corrupted top to bottom.

          “But we are a leading world provider”
          Australia is often compared to the UK or US as the leader in providing ‘international education’

          So let’s compare it.

          The vast majority of our foreign student and partners – some 800,000 or more of the 865,000 are the absolute bottom of the barrel in intake.

          Most are old, many are in their thirties.
          They were invariably unemployed or misfits in their own countries.
          The Chinese are part of the vast Chinese Hukou underclass China is dumping into the west. Criminals, misfits, lowlife and a Chinese underclass denied education or other opportunity in China as they are internal illegals. Used as mules by the Chinese criminal syndicates to launder money, participate in the Chinese run vice or labour black market.
          Thailand’s main contribution is abandoned Thai mothers, bar girls trafficked in for the sex industry with their male cousin on a secondary partner visa to work illegally in the chicken factory.
          The South Korea, Taiwan & Hong Kong foreign students are thousands of end of life north Asian prostitutes, pimp partners, money laundering mules, petty criminals and socially undesirables.

          The Indian, Bangladeshi, Nepalese , Pakistani etc, are almost exclusively recruited from the slums or rural poor.

          The Middle Eastern intake is to enter Australia on this alibi, arranged marriages, backyard weddings, and then to churn onto spousal, protection or other visas to stay.

          And our South America intake is exclusively mature adult unskilled misfit useless or the criminal spawn of San Paulo as an anchor for future PR & chain migration.

          What we have in Australia is not the same intake as what enters the UK, US or Canada as ‘foreign students’

          Our filters are set for different intake.
          The useless misfit unskilled of the third world to enter as migrant guestworkers on a visa pretext.
          Paying bribes & in debt, typically to foreign criminal agent procurer trafficking ring – to live & work illegally in Australia, to repay a loan, to send back remittances, to secure a PR & act as an anchor to bring in the rest.

          Many foreign students are exempt from declaring their funds (Chinese, North Asian etc), but where proof of funds is required, that is easily frauded with false bank statements and declarations organised by the agent.

          The foreign students arrive in debt to the money lenders and foreign agents trafficking them in.

          They only pay the first semester, a sham health cover payment and then they are immediately set to work in the factory, warehouse, labor ring or brothel.
          Vice if an Asian female, or if not comely then cleaning or restaurant or retail work, the Asian male a pimp, money laundering mule or factory & retail work.
          The Indian & Nepalese or Bangla are predominately male (as we have no appetite for their woman so they can’t earn money here). They do driving, shelf stacking, factory work, retail or cleaning predominantly.
          Destroying Australian youth, part time & mature age employment in all those sectors.

          Some fact checks again:

          The entire TR intake only bring in $2.4 billion yearly of self declared or declared funds. (Source DHA – ABF 2018).
          The foreign students component of that is $1.5 billion.

          Yet they pay $13.5 billion in fees for their visa alibi.
          So the fact is that money was earned here.
          And then sent out. A lot sent out.
          $18 billion a year of which ‘foreign students in Australia are $7.2 billion. And that is just what is legally tracked. It’s higher with new and untracked money xfer mechanisms used.
          Source World Bank 2019 Remittances flows.

          GDP & GDP per Capita..
          The 865,000 foreign students increase our GDP.
          They form a $41 billion black market sub economy (Treasury est $48.5k each average Australian income).

          Treasury however ignore that much of this income is illegal / cash : not taxed.
          As evidenced by a number of studies (Sydney Uni & UTS) that over 75% are working illegally in visa breach.

          GDP per Capita.
          In earning only $48.5k average – just over half the Australian gdp average, they dramatically pull down our Australian GDP per Capita, decimate Australian’s wages & our raise our cost of living.

          Impact on Australian cost of living.
          The 865,000 foreign students & partners create major contention and increased cost in housing and use of public infrastructure.

          7 foreign students and partners living in an ‘ex Australian’ modest 2 bed unit is 3 X the normal Australian average of 2.4 occupants (ABS)

          In an ‘ex Australian unit’ usually bought by a foreign syndicate via a PR proxy to launder dirty money into a safe haven with a high untaxed cash return.

          The migrant bunkshare cash in hand goldmine.
          The foreign students & partners are third world and dirt poor, in debt to foreign agent procurers & traffickers.
          Each migrant will pay some $150-180 a week for a shared room ‘bunk share, wifi & toilet roll deal’.
          The foreign criminal syndicate & PR owning that dwelling is pulling in $1,200 a week cash in hand.
          A minimal rent is declared, say $300, negative gearing often claimed by the PR as a ‘cut’ plus a fee and then the rest goes back to the foreign syndicate ‘investors’

          Why would the foreign syndicate and PR pricy owner rent to a normal legal Australian couple or young family who can only pay $400 a week and would insist on a legal lease and use of the unit?

          They won’t, and they typically evict or exit the Australians on any Australian residential dwelling purchased to replace them with the migrant guestworker cash in hand sublet bunk share model.

          So – out go the Australians onto the street.
          That’s why we have 116,000 Australian permanent homeless and another 340,000 Australians seeking affordable housing..
          Another $4 billion of cost & social impact to the Australian tax payer.

          Facts so far.
          The foreign student intake enter with less than $1.5 billion in declared funds, yet pay $13.5 billion in fees and send out $8 billion in remittances.
          The money is earned here & sent out.
          Not an export.

          They lower our GDP & wages.
          They steal over 660,000 Australian FTE jobs.
          They create an additional cost of some $22 billion in Centrelink unemployed and homeless housing support.

          They increase the cost of living & housing for all by tens of billions plus billions in homeless and housing support help.
          They lower all Australians GDP per Capita
          They destroyed our education industry in quality and affordability as the education industry prostituted itself as a migrant guestworker visa alibi.

          The social and economic cost is well over 50 billion negative in any view of it.
          How is any of that ‘An Export ??’

          Ahh … but they bring ‘human capital’ and that is worth $8.1 billion or some magic number (source: the same Deloitte Access Economics foreign students propaganda piece commissioned by Aust Education Gov)

          So a fact check.
          In 2005 (Migrant Pathways a Decade On Report) and the later 2006 Productivity Commission Report stated the foreign student progression to an above average professional vocation in Australia OR IN THEIR HOME COUNTRY was only 3.7%.

          That’s right.
          96.3% fail to ever become anything.

          They remain Indian slum clearance or rural poor, or Chinese Hukou underclass, or the tattooed up north & south Asian vice workers & their pimps.

          The bio security risk.
          So far I have only outlined the social and economic impact of the corrupted foreign student ‘industry’.

          Then we have the community health concerns, always an issue but now Covid-19 throws a spotlight on it.

          Foreign students & partners enter Australia with offshore foreign agent doctor health checks. TB and a few other conditions or diseases are ‘checked’, but most aren’t.

          Along with their falsified identity & fund details there is widespread corruption in these foreign agent doctor health checks.

          Once in Australia the Chinese, Indians, Nepalese, Bangladeshi, Malays, Middle Eastern, South American etc then present to our public hospitals (their sham health cover is worthless) with wide range of conditions & disease that expose this.

          Hepatitis, Tuberculosis, NDM-1 a widespread Indian disease, Malaria, Diphtheria, intestinal parasites and a wide range of communicable skin diseases and venereal disease.

          We can not trust the foreign doctor agents to screen and verify the foreign student or partner is infected with Covid-19.

          Onshore arrival screening would be needed and repeated over and over again across all 865,000 foreign students as a high risk carrier and transmitter of the disease.

          Once in Australia, the typical foreign student lives in highly congested living conditions (6, 8, 10 or more in a modest 2 bed unit or small house in ‘room share’.
          Most have cultural practices with very poor personal hygiene.
          They live in the highly congested migrant only slums in Sydney or Melbourne.
          They are extreme users of public transport as they transit between their multiple illegal workplaces, ‘learning place’ & their bunkshare.
          They form the majority of the vice workers in Australia.
          Their ethnic aligned lower end fake colleges & campuses function primarily as hubs for ethnic run illegal labor rings.
          Again hundreds of facts & media reports all substantiate this, including in this MB forum, so just take it as read.

          👉🏽That means any infected incoming ‘foreign student’ will quickly transmit their disease to their cohort.

          And the 865,000 foreign students in Australia quickly become the incubation hub and vector of Covid-19 virus transmission to Australian citizens.

          It needs a Royal Commission. (Years ago)
          That requires mass community awareness & concern to presume that to happen politically or via a mass citizen petition to the Governor General.

          In the meantime – here are my constructive suggestions in waging the media & community campaign to remove the foreign student & partner burden from Australia.

          1. Wage the media & community campaign to remove all work rights for foreign students and partners, and enforce it.
          With 2 million Australians unemployed and another 5 million now living off government support – this is the time to inflame public opinion and get the minister to make this simple change in all foreign student & partner visa conditions. And then have full State Police & government authority full enforcement.
          👉🏻That will stop the foreign student intake dead in its tracks and see 200,000 thousand or more depart.

          2. Vice to be removed as a legal income occupation (even under a false identity and no tax paid / yes it’s unbelievable isn’t it)
          👉🏻That that will see at least 50,000 depart.

          3. Inspect all funds – snap check.
          The majority do not have funds, they falsified this and are in visa breach. This is established law and visa conditions, why isn’t it being enforced?
          👉🏻Another 200,000 gone.

          4. Validate all identity & location address details.
          And then inspect then to see if where they live is ‘safe’ and to public health standards, as well as compliant to building occupancy rules. They won’t be.
          👉🏻That cleans out the rest.
          That will collapse the foreign owned migrant subletting cash in hand market and destroy their business model – the bottom end of the housing market will collapse.
          Housing affordability in rents and prices will be returned back to Australians.

          And what is left?
          Perhaps 80,000 genuine higher class foreign students who do have funds, do not steal Australian jobs or live in our housing illegally.
          Who are here to get a genuine education and then return back to their country of origin without any expectation of gaining a PR.

          (And maybe create a sex Worker visa for the pick of the crop to legitimise that as a visa category – so that Anthony Albanese of thai massage fame & others in Canberra see a happy ending in all this)

          • Eds … is that the longest post we’ve had? Nearly got RSI just paging through to the bottom of the comment.

  2. I’ve given this issue considerable thought. After deep and lengthy reflection and a great deal of soul-searching, my conclusion is that Mr MorningWood, Mr Ademoglu and all these other pricks can f right off. We didn’t want what they were selling before, and we still don’t want it now.

  3. “. The fact that most now need financial assistance is evidence of this point.”

    Most? Says who? Very few of the students at my institute do.

  4. Maybe to kill the export myth, we need a proper analysis, with numbers?

    You could then use these actual numbers when you go on radio, or send them to the applicable politicians, or post here for sharing?

    Has the Productivity Commission undertaken a proper analysis of the sector, maybe that could be a starting point (either supporting numbers, or challenging)?

  5. I think an important point being missed by the unis and politicians is simply that they are not wanted here by the voting citizens who’s views are the only ones that should be considered.

  6. Stewie Griffin

    Unis with foreign students above 15% of total student population should be treated as for profit enterprises.

    • And should therefore license and charge for any e.g. COVID vaccines that they produce? COVID modelling that they have done for the government?

  7. Does the readership have any idea what it takes to get a biological specimen into Australia via AQIS pemits etc.
    And yet universities can pay people to subvert biosecurity and public health laws by having them transit through a third party country.
    Why are they not facing criminal prosecution?

    Which leads to the issue of when things start opening up. There will need to be some kind of rule, such as you can only fly direct from your home country with no transits (maybe singapore/hk/dubai excepted, but only on provision of full travel history). Because otherwise if we open up to say Malaysia (for arguments sake), the universities are going to be back to their human trafficking game and getting the Chinese to transit through there even though we may not be officially open to China at that point.

  8. We can only ask our governments to define the national interest and then address policies in that direction.
    It is pretty clear that our immigration program exceeds what we can reasonably employ, and national standards which we one kept, namely minimum wage and working conditions, minimum infrastructure levels, income per capita, high skills base attracting high value employers … have not been kept in the last 10 years.
    Partly we have strong international competition with high skills also, but partly in my view because we had paralysed government in Canberra with partisan environment and no-one having enough votes to get things done.
    It is clear that China’s current mood is to dominate anyone it deals with and always win. To borrow a phrase, China first. There is also America First, and those who negotiate with Eurozone discover its Europe First for them also.
    So we need to articulate our national interest and put Australia first.
    The current very deep recession, and the clear breach of the one country two systems agreement with the British re Hong Kong allows an excellent opportunity to push back the pendulum on immigration, excessive inner city apartments, excessive influence of Chinese government. It is most difficult to buy from a trade partner that breaches its obligations whenever it likes. One would require only cash on delivery. Equally to sell to such a trade partner would require them to pay cash up front.
    Australia on its own could not make that stick, but all countries acting in that way, led particularly the US, could.

    • If it gets that bad, asking for prepayment before delivery could be an option. That way they can piss around doing whatever they want at the border.