Beijing’s final gift: No more students

This is the big one. Via The Australian:

In 2019, universities earned more than $7bn in student fees from China, and they fear that if Australia-China relations continue to deteriorate this revenue could be lost permanently.

There would also be major losses to the broader economy if Chinese students do not return. In the 2018-19 year, Chinese students spent $12.2bn in Australia in total, including student fees and living costs such as food, accommodation and transport.

So far the Chinese government has concentrated its trade retaliation against Australia in the goods area.

But it would be relatively simple for Beijing to interrupt the student market if it chose.

…International Education Association of Australia CEO Phil Honeywood said he was optimistic the worst would not happen.

“We are hopeful that the long established people-to-people links (with China) will ensure that commonsense prevails,” he said.

…A new survey from education company Navitas showed that Australia’s success in taming COVID-19 was not translating into an advantage in attracting international students.

The September survey of nearly 300 education agents in 54 countries found that, compared with Australia, perceptions of the UK as a student destination have risen sharply.

Fantastic. Unlike Phil Honeywood, one of Australia’s very worst rent-seekers, I do think that the worst is coming. I welcome it. We all should.

Chinese student numbers were far too large. So large, in fact, that they corrupted university commitment to freedom of speech; crashed pedagogical standards, unleashed Confucious Institute propaganda, and sank the universities into research partnerships that exposed Australia and Chinese peoples to CCP weapons, as well as surveillance dictatorship.

The cleanout of Australian university Chinese corruption is an essential part of our decoupling national rebuild.

Bring it on.

David Llewellyn-Smith
Latest posts by David Llewellyn-Smith (see all)


    • You’ll be eating your words, when the rich & civilized Chinese are replaced by Indians and Nepalis.

      • Sure they will increase but not in the short term as both countries are covid central and no state will want to be lax on quarantine again after the Victorian experience. Indian & Nepali students won’t be able to replace Chinese numbers especially at the unis.
        Added bonus is not having to wonder how many are kids of card carrying CCP members. Not many Indian/Nepali CCP members last I checked.

      • greedypuppyMEMBER

        yeah -the bottom feeders will make us yearn longingly for the return of the middle kingdom -they definitely wont be propping up the Audi and BMW dealerships, Hermes and Gucci or buying a nice little apartment or small mansion -expect more Deliveroo riders , non payment of fees and an all together lower class of international student-the unis won’t ever see their fees and will still be forced into passing them

      • Shades of MessinaMEMBER

        They won’t be going to unis, but it might be a boom for the inner city private colleges.

  1. Will believe this one when I see it but 100% welcome it. Plus China is trying to encourage it’s students to study internally to keep money within the country and an international education is no longer viewed as a class thing as so many of them have it now (although we know it’s primarily a migration play at least in Australia)

    My only concern now is DFAT and Tehan trying to replace it with the next third world country, sorry, market.

    If this does happen it will be the penultimate one before iron ore.

    • The reason education is not an export is because its a transfer of knowledge. As you educate you teach how to educate and sooner or later those your educating go back and educate the rest.

      I dont care so much that we are sharing the knowledge around, But dont call it an export and prance around saying our economy depends on it. It Doesn’t, the majority of the money this industry generates is earned in australia and not overseas. These students take jobs from locals and the majority of it either goes home or into the university ( after accomodation costs of course ).

      • The reason it’s not an export is because our visa system allows them to earn money to pay their fees, with students only being required to demonstrate funds to support their first year of study. If it was an export, there would be zero work rights unless in fields related to their course of study.

        • Rubbish. Education is not an export, its the act of knowledge transfer. Knowledge is the export.

          The reason its not an economic benefit is because of the reasons you state. it does not increase the wealth of the nation, it leaches of the nation while still taking the “goods” overseas.

  2. Stewie GriffinMEMBER

    But the Mum & Dad investors! University academics! Won’t someone think of the Mum & Dad investors! University academics!

    But the Mum & Dad investors! University academics! Won’t someone think of the Mum & Dad investors! University academics!

    • RobotSenseiMEMBER

      Not even the universities give two hoots about their academics, that’s why the majority of them are on contracts and unpaid for most of their marking.

    • Steve1036MEMBER

      Most of the University academics don’t care for international students. It’s the VC’s, bureaucrats and corporate style middle managers.

  3. Chinese student numbers were far too large.

    Last time you provided a graph showing only 12% students are Chinese???

    • The90kwbeastMEMBER

      Err are you being sarcastic?

      It was 12% of ALL students, not just 12% of the foreign students studying domestically, and the highest of all the western countries on that chart. It is an excessively large number. And, as a % of overseas students, wasn’t it something ridiculous like 40%?

      • Why you think sarcasts?
        Graph showed 12% of all the students were Chinese.
        12% of anything does not seem prevalent for corruption in any way.
        How many Nepalese, Indians etc?

        All foreign students are the same to me, be it that they come from N Korea, China or UK or Germany. They are just students and their mind is being shaped the way of the education they receive.

        • The90kwbeastMEMBER

          If you think it’s ok that at an Australian university that 12% of ALL students were from China (this could also be any other country), then you would be in a small minority. And between India & China, yes, foreign students were way too high as a % of total student enrolments also.

          MB has explored the issue in great depth in about two dozen blog posts the past 2 years.

          The whole point of our universities is they are meant to serve Australian’s first, over the past decade they weren’t doing that but instead just chasing the next easily made dollar from intl. students.

        • I can’t care less if I am minority in opinion, I care all if my opinion is correct or based on facts.

          How do you decide what is the threshold of “too much” and expand on how do you come to a number.
          WOuld you say 12% of NZ or US students is too much?

          I cannot see that 12% of students can compromise Unis in a developed country to a level of corruption seen only in puppet states, like Belarus, Ukraina or Zimbabwe. If you can, please explain how.
          For me, the Chinese or any other students would have to be a vast majority % of total students to be able to have some force on corruption.

          • The90kwbeastMEMBER

            Well then if you want to make sure your opinion is correct & is based on facts go back and read the several dozen posts already compiled on this blog and you may change your mind.

            “WOuld you say 12% of NZ or US students is too much?”
            Probably. But if it did get to that level, at least they are also western democratic, non-ESL countries not riddled with corruption and nepotism like the other countries we’ve taken in students from.

            “I cannot see that 12% of students can compromise Unis in a developed country to a level of corruption seen only in puppet states, like Belarus, Ukraina or Zimbabwe. If you can, please explain how.”

            Strawman, ignoring that comment entirely other than I’m glad you want to see our country deteriorate to shitholes like that before it becomes an issue in your books.

            To conclude, Djenka you need to actually read this blog before wading in on the attack first mate.

          • 90kW

            How will reading more of the same open up the view?
            I know very well what is the stance of this blog, I also know what is the stance of other blogs and other opinions.
            Suggesting that one opinion piece (here) is absolute truth is laughable.

            You can read _only_ what you like or you can read what is available. Choice is yours.

        • CCP Membership Hit 91.9 Million in 2019, it accounts for 6.6% of China’s Total Population and you are trying to tell us that 12% cannot corrupt. Have a good think, seriously

          • Newsflash mate, that is 6.6% in decision making places.
            0.1% members in 100% of decision making places even more

            By your logic, >50% local students could corrupt UNI’s several times more than non-local (and they would if a chance was given). Where do Nepalese or Inidian or Pakistani students fall in that calculation?

            Hint: free market, push of education exclusively into industrial capitalism hands can skew the perception and allow any mean to justify ends in the chase of the customers students

        • That is simply not the case Djenka. Do you not accept the evidence that many Chinese students have allegiance to Chinese interests? There are many examples of students here being mobilised at the behest of the CCP e.g. protests against the Dalai Lama busloads converged from around the country, protests against Hong Kong independence and so on. Why is this hard to accept? Sure, other cohorts can also be mobilised, Indian especially Hindu nationalism is fugly too, and should be countered for different reasons, but I cannot think of any other country that mobilises at the behest of the central power. Can you?

          • Luca BiasonMEMBER

            The added issue with authoritarian powers is that allegiance is not an option, regardless of one’s depth and breadth of world views, particularly when said state powers create vast networks of surveillance and control (student ‘associations’) abroad.

            The ultimate irony is that some of said technology may well be developed inside the same campus, opening the floor to the notion that research should be classified in tiers. But that’s for another day.

          • part 1
            Students have malleable personality and are open to new evidence unlike adults with formed personality.
            Sheer presence in country with improved freedom of information (in comparison to say China) will and does open up the mind of young people.

          • part 2
            In your asesment, how much space you’ve left for a possibility that some or most stdents here are simply having a different perspective from any [email protected] [email protected]?
            Have you ever wonder why do people from “@ppressed” countries often defend such “regeemes” when abroad?

          • part 3
            One hundred percent mobilizd studnts of Twelve % of all the students in any Youni cannot corrupt Younis. ALL corrpt Studnts cannot corrupt Younis
            [email protected] for the better paying studnts can [email protected] through a criiping normality (free [email protected] principle).

            Or this:
            In 2019, universities earned more than $7bn in student fees from China, and they fear that if Australia-China relations continue to deteriorate this revenue could be lost permanently.

          • @ Luca

            What you describe is true in all the aspects other than [email protected]
            Becoming an activist requires much greater motivation and cannot be enforced on larger scale required for the scenario described.

            Can it be that some students simply see the world differently from any narrative chosen?

          • >Chinese students have allegiance to Chinese interests
            This is 100% true. I got to know a few Chinese students and they all hated Dalai Lama. Labelled him a terrorist. It was shocking to hear but years of BS propaganda will do that to you. Also, every single one of them came here not for education but to try to get perm residency. The idea is to get a foothold into Australian property so mommy/daddy can make money at home then build their long term property/investment portfolio in a stable country.

        • Not clear why you got the bot.
          But it’s not just the mobilised students is it, combine that with direct funding of institutes, chairs, research, collaboration, intel prop access and so on and the influence potential is much greater than 100% of that 12%. It is tragic that this cohort who have so much to offer otherwise are just pawns in the CCP game. THe individuals suffer, even the innocent.

          • Why does [email protected] work in Aus unis but not at Oxford, Yale or Harward?
            (well, not at the comparable level)
            So far, the motivation to drop the standards and commercialise the outcome of studies at local unis is overwhelming. Unis that toe in to any student demand or provide a guarantee of studies outcome get to benefit the most in this scenario, so…

      • 1 (one) rotten apple can spoil the crate, because all other apples are prone to rot.
        What happens if a farmer accelerates ripening to make his green apples ripen faster so that he can sell more, sooner?

    • DLS,

      thanks for letting me post the images as I did above. Pity I posted irrelevant images (to the claim made) as none shows the percentage of the “bad corrupting” students.
      Someone told me it is very bad practice redacting other people posts, particularly when the opinion is not toeing in to mainstream narrative but I say it is nonsense what they say.

      1. if not 12%, what is the actual percentage of the “bad corrupting”* students of the total students numbers in Aus?
      (from credible source please, eg.
      2. How come these “bad corrupting” students did not erode to oblivion and corrupted Unis with long standing legacy, like Oxford, Cambridge, Yale or Harward?
      3. If no one at local Uni’s took ‘monetary influence changing means’, would we have corrupt Unis?
      4. If Unis were focusing on Quality and not at all on Quantity at any cost, would we be talking about all this?
      5. Whom has the control of studies outcome (e.g. if a student failed or not)?

      Nope, the questions are academic.

      12% of “bad corrupting” students was in another oped here, if the image is not deleted by now I will provide the link

      • You obviously like to have a chat and it is a good demonstration how a minority can try to exert influence over the majority. Out of about 30 people who have made comments you have taken up more than half the space with half-truths yet you do not appear interested in whether what is being said is accurate, nor as The90kwbeast has suggested reading the previous articles written.

        What Luca has said is a sensible middle ground position. The reasonableness of having a high foreign student intake at the expense of our own youth or security is absent and the blame rests squarely on the Australian Government. The CCP understandably took advantage of our negligence but has no right to object to our moves to rectify the situation, I am interested to know why you are so passionate about this.

  4. haimona12MEMBER

    Is there anything to suggest this is targeted only at Aus universities? I gather it’s across the board and presumably reflects a desire by the PRC to reduce economic leakage to support a covid19 recovery.

  5. The Chinese students will keep coming.
    They know that Australia is the greatest country on earth, and way to becoming a resident.
    That tap will never turn off.
    If anything, more will want to come to escape the CCP.

  6. I got excited that it was an actual policy announcement. It was some d1ckhead speculating that things might be OK in australian media.

  7. kiwikarynMEMBER

    “A new survey from education company Navitas showed that Australia’s success in taming COVID-19 was not translating into an advantage in attracting international students.”
    Why would it? In fact, the opposite effect is more likely. Since Covid has about zero impact on young, healthy people, they won’t care if a country is Covid free or not. They’re unlikely to get more than a sniffle even if they catch it. What they will care about is being locked in their tiny room for months on end, and as Victoria just proved, Australia is one of the last places you would want to study at. Young people want freedom. They want restaurants and bars open. And more importantly, they want the ability to have jobs with Uber Eats. Hard to do that when a country is permanently in and out of extreme draconian lockdowns.
    I would expect a country like Sweden will be immensely popular with foreign students, which they are. International student enrolments in Sweden is up 13% this year. Chinese student enrolments are up 45%.

    • +1 I think there is a growing disconnect between how Australians and NZ ers , view the covid situation and the rest of the world who have been living with it for 6 months or more.

      • kiwikarynMEMBER

        I think there are the people who are afraid of the virus, and the people who are afraid of the Govt response to the virus. I know which camp I am in. Australia and NZ have brainwashed everyone into being afraid of the virus, even people who are at zero risk from it. I’d probably be afraid of it if I were elderly, overweight, or had a co-morbidity that would otherwise kill me anyway – but I’m none of the above, and hence my risk of death is almost zero. On the other hand, my risk of being locked in my house for months, unable to attend social functions or events, or to see my friends and family – is extremely high. If I were 20 years old, I’d be in Sweden too.

        • There are also those who are afraid of passing Covid19 on to a family member (or someone in a healthcare facility) and those who are not.

        • Exactly Australia and NZ putting their citizens under house arrest for the flu to save some geriatrics that mostly will die within the year anyway was a hideous abuse of freedoms where the costs were predominantly placed upon the poor and the young. The old and white collar workers were not effected to anywhere the same extent.

  8. You mean our kids aren’t going to have to learn Mandarin in high school so they have some hope of completing group assignments at uni? Sweet!

  9. The fact that they haven’t already restricted students coming here tells me that this is part of their plan. They want incoming students here. It’s in their interest in the same way as they haven’t placed a tariff on IO.

  10. Ronin8317MEMBER

    A lot of universities is going to be bankrupt, which will be a good thing, because they have become more real estate developer than an educational institution.

  11. Luca BiasonMEMBER

    This is a complex one, and a shame for those who ultimately lose out i.e. young folks who genuinely invest in a better future for themselves. There’s a truly great side to the internationalisation of academia and it must be fostered, it’s just that it cannot be treated as a la-la-land or a golden cow to milk at leisure.

    There’s no doubt that the CCP weaponises its large student cohorts as an instrument of soft power and blackmail, likewise that it had an impact on teaching and assessment standards.

    Yet it’s primarily because all this found an extremely welcoming and fertile ground in the modern corporate model adopted by the education sector – as mentioned elsewhere trying to get the best from both worlds (corporate and – or at the expense of – academia) without the structure, checks & balances and accountability that a proper corporate governance would entail. Greed, influence and self-interest did the rest.

    The key point is this: foreign interference in academia is a by-product of structural flaws in governance and (to borrow a term from the SAS report) the ‘fog of culture’. Period.

    It’s easy and convenient for academia to reverse-engineer the argument starting from the conclusion that international engagement is mutually beneficial etc etc then clutch a few more abstractions and look away from the pitfalls. Within certain parameters, of course it is. It is not when the central point of the assessment is exclusively the financial benefit (i.e. how much money can we squeeze) and articulate decontextualised policies around it.

    And Australia has not led the way here, it likely just went with the flow. I don’t know in the US but I was working in the UK 15 years ago or so, and raging against the lowering of IELTS scores as entry point across the entire sector with some (a lot) of unis not even requesting proof of language proficiency at all for PhD candidates. To this day not uncommon to hear horror stories of supervisors effectively re-writing a thesis on behalf of the candidate.

    The graduate battery farming of cash-cows has become a textbook in short-termism triggering the vicious circle of lower and lower academic standards to boost customer satisfaction, investment in infrastructure to attract more customers (someone will pay or bail out anyway), and on top of that all the sensitivities that now come with an engagement like the one heading all news banners these days.

    Unis rush against their own government when they are asked to enforce the scrutiny and transparency that should have always been there, or are willing to put national interest in second place when they lobby to have the borders open at the peak of the pandemic.

    Yet – crucially – they still appear to do zilch to protect the academic freedom and the wellbeing of their staff/students from the reach of an adversarial and authoritarian state power, and I have the extraterritoriality of the National Security Law in mind. The purpose of the extraterritoriality of the law is to cow the diaspora into silence over matters deemed sensitive, fully control the narrative through coercion, effectively nullifying the chances of doing teaching or research in those areas: in a fieldwork as an academic/PhD you may easily fall foul of the law yourself in a Kylie Moore-Gilbert hostage-diplomacy scenario, nor would you ever find an audience willing to answer your questions as they themselves are quite clear about the consequences.

    Not in the agenda, it seems, even if it is students in the crosshair: “The problem is compounded by academics around the UK (and beyond) who are sympathetic with the Chinese government, and by students who, despite confidentiality built in to online discussions and tutorials, for one reason or another cave into pressure by their government when told to inform on fellow students”.

    There’s a lot – and I mean a lot – of young folks in these large international cohorts who are guilty of nothing and now found themselves in the bull’s eye of geopolitical wars they have nothing to do with, other than being used as an instrument on all sides (or a bottomless ATM machine…)

  12. I assume it will be easier for our education industry to seek alternate markets for its product than say our goods exporters… after all, there’s no shortage of yet-to-educate 18-year-olds in the world today last time I checked, especially in the APAC region

  13. Tough choice for the CCP. They can withdraw the students and cause economic disruption, or they can continue to send students and benefit from political influence. I’ll go with their attachment to political influence.

    • matthew SmithMEMBER

      Of curse the Chinese will keep sending the students! This is part of their long game of politically and economically and finally militarily overrunning us. Wake up Australia.

  14. matthew SmithMEMBER

    I have stumbled onto this site and see someone actually telling it like it is. Jesus. Evidently this site is is not the politically correct platitudes the ABC serves up every evening.