Lobbyists demand quick return of international students

The CEO of the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA), Phil Honeywood, has once again demanded the government allow “large numbers” of international students to enter Australia:

“If the federal government is pragmatic enough to accept the separate state government proposals for pilot intakes (of international students) then it will prove the model for Australia to have first-mover advantage come February next year,” said Mr Honeywood, who is chief executive of the International Education Association of Australia, as well as chair of the joint government-industry taskforce ad­vis­ing on the education sector’s response to the COVID-19 crisis…

NSW, Victorian and South Australian governments, as well as the Group of Eight universities, put forward plans to reopen Australian borders to limited numbers of overseas students in the coming months. They hope this pilot program will be a precursor to large numbers of international students arriving for the first semester next year.

Seriously, why are we still listening to this guy? His behaviour leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic was quite frankly atrocious.

When the virus was initially mushrooming, Honeywood campaigned alongside the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) against travel bans:

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.”

No international travel means no international students. Phil Honeywood and our universities need to understand the meaning of no international travel.

Rather than quickly returning to ‘business as usual’, COVID-19 presents a prime opportunity to rebuild the education system so that it is focused on delivering great education for our citizens first and foremost, and to stop the dropping of standards in the chase for international student dollars.

The sector’s money-obsessed business model is degrading, trashing what should only ever be places of higher learning and research.

Before the federal government even considers opening borders to international students, it should implement two fundamental reforms:

  1. Financial requirements should be lifted significantly to ensure that students can support themselves throughout their courses and are not dependent on paid employment; and
  2. English-language requirements should be raised to an advanced level.

These reforms would:

  1. Raise the quality of student, given most would come to Australia for the primary purpose of studying, rather than to gain backdoor immigration;
  2. Maximise export revenues per student, given tuition fees and living expenses would be paid for by funds from abroad, rather than money earned here;
  3. Limit competition in the labour market, thereby increasing opportunities for younger Australians; and
  4. Reduce wage theft and exploitation, given international students would no longer need to work illegally in ‘cash in hand’ jobs.

Returning to ‘business as usual’ will only further degrade entry and teaching standards, entrench CCP influence, and add capacity to an already oversupplied jobs market.

Australia should instead aim for a smaller, sustainable intake of higher quality international students that better balances costs and benefits.

Leith van Onselen


  1. No doubt about self interest. Ugliest dog in the field but can be relied on to always have a go.
    Government has no end of spruikers and carpet baggers pounding on its doors every day.
    Unfortunately such people have had too many wins in a decade of government looking for tactical advantage instead of having enough numbers to look instead for the national interest.
    They need to go hungry for a bit.

  2. The same reason why we have to listen to all the other insane lobbyists, no one fights them on their own platform. If no one is discrediting them in front of their audience and the general public than they will stick around all that much longer.

    • DominicMEMBER

      Yes, the challenge is having the opportunity to discredit these arguments in a public forum. The MSM will not entertain such an event because they are either ideologically bound (wildly pro immigrant) or won’t bite the hand that feeds them (real estate lobby and all other business lobbies that prosper from immigration).

      That said, when you read the comments at the bottom of some articles in the MSM, there is definitely a sense that the frustration is felt more broadly. It’s not just a MB thing.

      • It’s always overwhelmingly negative in the comments section with a few desperate spruikers and one or two naive cosmopolitans wheeling out the same platitudes.

        The public don’t want it. I hold to my prediction that we will see a couple of the lower tier visa factory unis go under (CQU, James Cook, Southern Cross etc) But the group of 8 remain relatively unscathed.

        The question of why the fk we have 41 unis for a population of 25 million I see being asked more and more from John q public.

  3. happy valleyMEMBER

    “Seriously, why are we still listening to this guy?”

    Because Straya runs on moral bankruptcy and corruption?

  4. reusachtigeMEMBER

    With massage lounges opening up in many states (except NSW FFS) we need the hotter girl students to hurry back to continue their in depth studies into the English language!

  5. few points:
    most of international students are already here
    do others want to return/start studies here ?
    is this applicable to real students only or even to 400k fake students – workers exploiting visa loopholes to be exploited by employers
    how is going to look a legal challenge if foreigners get more rights than citizens when it comes to traveling?

    • DominicMEMBER

      Something tells me we’re not going back to the hey-day of yesteryear but that maybe a triumph of hope over experience.

    • Yeah this is a good point.
      Similar with that grant to stimulate housing… i suspect this time it is a bit harder because wont the toursim industry demand.we have grants to take holidays and education industry demand we have grants for uni courses?
      Why are they having to deal with this blow on their own? meanwhile the housing industry which has always said that foreign buying has no impact is getting grants to keep people in jobs. Not just jobkeeper.. actual stimulation of demand.

  6. Scotty’s “announceable” on this can’t be far off. Australia: Student Taker, Degree Faker. Oh, did I mention that we are the most successful multicultural society with the most miraculous economy?

    • Jumping jack flash

      Ever the marketer. Rebranding TAFE as something new now.
      Pity that once again he misses the point. He can’t just train up a ton of new workers and then somehow, magically i guess, bankrupt businesses start up again.

      Since immigration has all but shut down and with it the source of slaves, I think i can guess who he’s been talking to…

      This economy surely is magical, in so far as it depends on a lot of magic to work.

  7. Also, it’s time to cut the link between study and PR. That alone will help raise standards and ensure only high quality students genuinely interested in studying would enroll rather than students interested only in PR.

    • Charles MartinMEMBER

      An also pull it out of every FTA. It’s about trade, not importing the third world.

    • And no work rights for students and their partners, and no to bringing in their dependents.

      And scrap graduate visas.