University chiefs tone deaf on international students

As expected, a pilot scheme to fly international students into Australia has been officially abandoned:

A plan for 350 international students to fly to Canberra to continue their studies at the end of July has been postponed due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases in Australia…

The University of Canberra and the Australian National University announced in a statement that plan had been put on hold.

“Given the recent COVID developments, the universities have decided to postpone the well-advanced pilot plan to return 350 continuing students to Canberra campuses in late July until there is a clearer picture around the COVID trajectory,” the statement said…

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Nick Coatsworth said medical authorities have been discussing the hotel quarantine policy and the burden that the return of over 60,000 people has placed on the public health system.

The national cabinet is set to discuss slowing the number of overseas arrivals on Friday.

Meanwhile, Melbourne’s top university vice-chancellors continue to lobby hardy for a quick return of international students, despite the sudden shutdown of Melbourne due to quarantine failures:

Melbourne’s top university chiefs are pushing for foreign students to return to Victoria as soon as possible or risk having them abandon Australia completely…

Margaret Gardner, the vice-chancellor of Monash University, said foreign students would consider ditching study plans in Australia if their return to campus was further delayed by the ­pandemic.

Duncan Maskell, the vice-chancellor of the University of Melbourne, told The Australian the reinstatement of lockdown measures in Melbourne had also derailed plans to bring back overseas students to the country…

“These students show incredible loyalty and trust and we should reciprocate with flexibility to support this cohort.

“If international students are not able to return to campus in Australia, we risk them turning to the many other places in the world that would welcome them on to their campuses and to damage the reputation of Australia as a welcoming, open destination for people to study, work and live”…

Professor Maskell said his university’s plans to bring students back were well-advanced. “The University of Melbourne, along with other Victorian universities, has been working closely with the Australian and Victorian governments on a plan to bring students currently overseas safely back to Australia”…

These university chiefs clearly live in a different Melbourne to the current city that is completely locked down and closed-off from the rest of Australia.

If Australia cannot process a thousand returning citizens and permanent residents without causing major outbreaks and lockdowns, how can it safely handle many thousands of students from virus-ridden nations that have no investment in protecting the country?

Our universities seem far more concerned about international students, and the money they bring, than they are about the health of the Australian population.

Melbourne is a complete disaster zone, and the prospect of international students bringing additional virus cases here, and adding to the unfolding horror, shows the utter selfishness and greed of these universities.

Australia must remain shut off from all but returning citizens and permanent residents. No exceptions.

Leith van Onselen
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  1. James O'ShannassyMEMBER

    Absolutely!!!! Lets see how this evolves.. Any idea for cash going forward? Cash? Liking your fund but looking for timing,,,

  2. Mr SquiggleMEMBER

    Well said Leigh. Surely these universities could look at a new marketing pitch for international students that says

    1) stay right were you are in [insert name of international location]. You can experience Australia’s high quality education facilities from home!
    2) enrol in our online courses if you believe a Degree from An Australian universities will help you In life
    3) Upgrade your internet connection and download the zoom app To connect to our lectures, tutorials and libraries
    4) save yourself the travel costs

    If they did that, I would start calling our universities an export industry!

    • 5) Full working rights for you in your home country.
      6) Zero transfer fees for getting your income to family members
      7) No pesky Aussie students giving you stink eye in person.
      8) Opportunity to do assignments without group assistance to build your independence!

  3. Let’s face it. Another 6 months, 12 month months we’ll go down the European and USA route and just give up.

  4. If the universities keep this behaviour up they could earn a Royal Commission after seeing it on financial services and aged care.

  5. Hey YOU get locked down and go broke, they get money..
    ..what is not to like for them?
    Assuming they are immoral swine.

  6. The universities have got a powerful lobby group. The “Australian population” should be so lucky.

  7. Duncan Maskell and Margaret Gardner are both on LinkedIn – connect and send them a note maybe a good way to communicate and explain their misunderstanding of the contextual situation and unintended consequences..
    A fix, effective in the short term, has unforeseen long-term consequences which may require even more use of the same fix. Early Warning Symptom:
    “It always seemed to work before; why isn’t it working now?”
    Management Principle:
    Maintain focus on the long term. Disregard short-term “fix,” if feasible, or use it only to “buy time” while working on long-term remedy.
    Business Story:
    A manufacturing company launched a new set of high-performance parts, which were wildly successful at first. However, the CEO was driven by maximizing his ROI, so he deferred ordering expensive, new production machines. Manufacturing quality suffered, which led to a reputation for low quality. Customer demand fell off dramatically over the ensuing year, which depressed returns and made the CEO even more unwilling to invest in new production equipment.
    Other Examples:
    People and organizations who borrow to pay interest on other loans, thereby ensuring that they will have to pay even more interest later. Cutting back maintenance schedules to save costs, which eventually leads to more breakdowns and higher costs, creating still more cost-cutting pressures.

    Senge, Peter M.. The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization (Century business) (pp. 399-400). .

    • But managers are paid for short term performance i.e. VC for UQ getting $200k bonus for increasing Chinese student numbers over 1 year – despite mid to long term damage.

      Unless managers are given long term contracts and bonuses paid at end of long term contract and base pay is basic then there will be no change. .

  8. I don’t think many Chinese students will want to return to Australia. China is suffering financially and parents may not be able to afford the fees, job opportunities for new graduates are not as good as they were and a degree from a troublesome foreign country may not carry the kudos it once had. Add to that the difficulty getting money out of China. Looks like universities will have to educate Australians, at least for a while.

    • DominicMEMBER

      A-ha, someone who gets it. There appears to be a handful under the misapprehension that there are hordes of wealthy Chinese just champing at the bit to get into any Western country they can. What they don’t appreciate is that as the world’s economy circles the drain, the fortunes of the Chinese middle classes are doing the same. They’re getting poorer every bit as fast as we are and capital outflows are being supervised much more heavily. The glory days are over – those who wanted to get out should have left a couple of years back — borrowed heavily from local banks transferred the cash overseas and left the country debt-free (‘wealthy, cash buyers’). Now many who want to leave will have to do so with just the shirts on their backs and a few Bitcoins.

  9. The UsurperMEMBER

    I think the upside of Covid is that to overcome it, it requires systems that are well thought out, long term and sustainable. So it is hilarious to watch all these unsustainable and corrupted organisations across the country struggle to adapt to the new reality.

    No longer can an organisation focus on short term gain and externalise the consequences. A small slip up and you’re done.

    I think the next few years will require real leadership, and maybe I’m just full of youthful optimism, but I think this crisis could result in a long term changing of the guard, and be better for us all in the long run.

    • GlendaFMEMBER

      I too hope for the same.
      It’s just that as you age, you see your peers changing slightly as time goes on and taking on more and more of the ‘hey, I’m doing ok, better than others, what can I do to kepp this going and even better it?’
      Once each individual starts down this path then we end up with what we now have, two systems one for those members of the ‘game of mates’ and the rest of us. Idealism is full on in your youth, til the coruption sets in, and this is unfortunately human nature.
      I would love to think that the ideals of my kids and their peers will last, I will hope that they have more morals in the long run, but I’m not sure…

  10. turncoatMEMBER

    “thousands of students from virus-ridden nations that have no investment in protecting the country”

    You make a very critical point that is often overlooked. The response to the pandemic places extraordinary demands on individuals to do the right thing. But people are imperfect. For a young person with little personal health risk from Covid and with granny holed up in down town Kathmandu, breaching covid health standards is much more likley than for the resident population with elderly relatives and the performance of the collective economy front of mind.

    That our supposedly highly intelligent academic leaders could advocate adverse selection of a group imbued with such an obvious moral hazard proves once again that financial incentives can easily overcome otherwise reasonable men and women.

    • You are right. I think this also extends to second generation types, eg Dastyari, Moselmane, Varghese, Lieu

  11. Charles MartinMEMBER

    Does anyone know the breakdown of the 28,000 international arrivals to straya since Pangolin Syndrome kicked off is?