Universities demand permanent residency for international students

Last year, the former vice-chancellor of Macquarie University, Professor Steven Schwartz, admitted that many international students only study in Australia to gain working rights and permanent residency:

[Professor Schwartz] said foreign students flock to courses likely to lead to jobs and permanent residency…

“Permanent residency is one of the main motivations to study in Australia’…

“If suddenly permanent residency was given to people who study poetry, it’s likely they’d all be doing poetry.”

Over recent months we have witnessed the edu-migration industry lobby the federal government to give permanent residency to students in order to increase Australia’s attractiveness as a study destination (see here and here).

Now Innovative Research Universities (IRU) – a collaboration between Charles Darwin University, Flinders University, Griffith University, James Cook University, La Trobe University, Murdoch University and Western Sydney University – have joined the fold, providing a submission to the Joint Standing Committee on Migration’s review of Australia’s skilled migration program demanding the federal government better link permanent residency to study:

An effective Australian international education and skilled migration policy should be clear that international students are a legitimate source of applicants for skilled migration places consistent with Government immigration targets year by year…

We should affirm that attaining a qualification from an Australian university or other provider is a positive outcome for a person in demonstrating their relative standing for skilled immigration visas.

…there should be a pathway that allows international students to apply for residence and citizenship.

Australia’s education industry is already an integral part of the immigration system – effectively a pathway for purchasing backdoor working rights and permanent residency.

Basically, the federal government has worked hand-in-glove with universities to create a system that encouraged massive growth in full fee paying international students by:

  1. The federal government offering the world’s most generous student visa working rights (i.e. two to four years) and opportunities for permanent residency; and
  2. Australia’s universities lowering entry and teaching standards to ensure large number of students qualify to study and pass their courses.

The result is that international students are not attracted to Australia for the quality of its education, but because studying at an Australian institution is a key criteria to gain full work rights and permanent residency.

Australia offers the most generous post-study work rights in the developed world.

In turn, the education industry has abandoned the pursuit of academic excellence and instead morphed into giant rent-seeking business focused on pushing through as many students as possible in order to maximise fees and profit.

On this front, the edu-migration industry has been very successful. Before COVID, Australia had by far the highest concentration of international students in the world at roughly 2.5 times the UK’s, triple Canada’s, and five times the US’:

Australia’s concentration of international students was extreme prior to COVID.

Instead of granting international students even greater pathways to residency, the federal government should instead target a smaller intake of higher quality students by:

  1. Raising entry standards (particularly English-language proficiency);
  2. Raising financial requirements; and
  3. Removing the link between studying, work rights and permanent residency.

These reforms would improve student quality, lift export revenues per student, and would lower enrolment numbers to sensible and sustainable levels that are more akin with international norms. They would also help to lift teaching standards and the experience for domestic students, which must be our universities’ primary priority.

Australia’s education industry must be made to compete on quality and value alone and not be allowed to profit from trashing standards and behaving as agents to foreigners pursuing backdoor migration.

Education should be about higher learning, not higher earning.

Unconventional Economist


  1. My university is one of those listed above. None of the senior executive are Australian-born or grew up here. By their accents, all come from the same region in the UK. All big fans of diversity and guilt the nasty (previous) colonisers to Australia. The irony is lost, as they keenly exploit another set of brown people and sell what isn’t theirs for personal gain..

    • Yes I have noticed this is fairly common in many Aussie unis – quite a large cohort of ex-UK academics in senior positions.

      What has driven this ?. Jobs for mates looking to escape the UK ?.

      Is there really no local talent to perform the tick and flick roles ?.

  2. You’d be pissed as a local student, having to pay top dollar for a rather degraded degree nowadays and have to carry your classmates in assignments as they don’t speak the local lingo. Especially if they are half asleep from pulling double shifts at the local 7-11, to pay for the course and send some repayments back home.
    I think they should cap overseas students as 10% of the course per starting year, otherwise it makes it too hard to try and carry 60%+ of the class in those damn team assignments, they seem to love handing out these days.(Less time marking perhaps)

    • Musings/ramblings from The Swamp. (Because the Northern Rivers after this endless summer rain is getting very Swampy eh Bolsty? Good god.)

      I started a B.Eng in 2000, the year fees went from about (IIRC) $1000 a year to $4000 a year, for a full 4 year Eng degree (with honours). I remember feeling quite exercised about that. Though HECS at inflation (it even went down one quarter lolz) was reasonable.

      Recently I was looking at some Health/Informatics Masters and Grad Certificates (which is post grad) courses. 11k for a grad cert, and with a 25% loan fee. A loan fee?! (Fortunately waived for post grad). And this is 100% online learning – part time 1 year online learning for 11k. 22k for a Masters.

      Yowsers. That looks like dimunition of higher education to me.

      I don’t even think my B.Eng (telco, RMIT) exists anymore IIRC. You have to do a vague 4 year degree then specialise.

      Good grief.

      Meanwhile my chippie charges $65/hr + GST ($40 for an apprentice) PLUS a 15% profit margin (here I was thinking their hourly rate had profit built in). Not that I begrudge him that – he’s very good – but it shows you how valuable a trade can be (hard graft though).

  3. One of the blessings of COVID was to destroy this sector. Still an oversupply of migrants in my suburb riding on the footpaths though.

    • Out of interest one wonders What % of migrants would represent a non oversupply in your neighbourhood

      • Out of interest, does ‘out of interest’ = ‘out of desire to sh_t stir’

        When law abiding = 20% per ethnic group, from the 5 leading immigration countries to Australia by number
        When law breaking = 0% per ethnic group

        • It’s unfortunate the language triggered you.
          Next time I’ll use “for my edification”? Would that be ok?
          It was a genuine question as it’s interesting to contemplate.

          • https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/more-than-500-birds-seized-in-probe-into-sydney-cockfighting-20210312-p57a1x.html

            More than 500 birds have been seized in Sydney’s south-west, as part of an ongoing investigation into what is alleged to be one of the state’s largest-ever illegal cockfighting syndicates.

            Police executed a search warrant at a property at Horsley Park on Thursday, where officers located roughly 540 fighting cockerels, roosters and chickens, as well as cockfighting paraphernalia.

            There’s a couple percent you can have for free Swampmeister. Not an animal lover despite being a disciple of the Church of Big Australia of the Latter Day Woke™ I take it????

        • Maybe Bloke is scared of witches who followed our vibrants here.

          The 48-year-old had also been “talking nonsense” about being chased by witches.
          “He was saying witches are coming and we have to leave,” the witness told police.
          “I had never seen anyone as drug f***ed in my life. He hadn’t slept for eight days.”

          Truckie faces court over Victoria police deaths

      • I do understand this sentiment. It develops after a while if you don’t live in a privileged suburb. As in, if once a week you see something like a recent arrival driving up the breakdown lane the wrong way into on coming traffic, on purpose, to avoid a 2 minute U-Turn detour, after a while you really start to get angry with the whole situation. I mean for the privileged, mass migration is a fiscal issue. But for those of us lower down the spectrum it is a literal safety issue. Ask anyone who has been hurt or killed in a traffic accident (which will be swept under the rug) caused by one of the…unassimilated.

  4. working class hamMEMBER

    The cat is out of the bag, they must be desperate.
    This is going to get the green light once the vaccine rollout is complete. Backfilling all of those Air Kennels.

  5. reusachtigeMEMBER

    This is a great initiative as it will attract even more students to our extremely important eduction export sector. You should all do the right thing and work out how to profit from this!

  6. TailorTrashMEMBER

    You have been told ….straya

    “”Wang Xining, the deputy head of China’s embassy in Australia, said last year there was a big difference between foreign interference and foreign influence, and that Australia would not enjoy affluence, cultural diversity and intellectual richness “without accepting some foreign influence”.”

  7. A couple of centuries ago, the Americans parked their warships in Tokyo Bay and forced the then closed and inward looking kingdom of Japan to ‘open up’ their country and economy to trade and western influence. If Australia tried the same today I wonder if there’ll be a Chicom aircraft carrier parked in the middle of Sydney harbour that will be forcing the opening to migration and foreign students.

  8. Display NameMEMBER

    Appears the universities have given up any pretense of providing an education. It is an open admission that it is a scam.
    And are the current crop of intl university students a source for skilled migration? What degrees do most of them do?

    How about we only take as migrants those that get distinction averages in STEM degrees. Fcuk knows we have enough lawyers and accountants. Then we *might* be talking about skilled migrants. Also could include those that are sponsored by Australian companies with salaries say 25% > average.

    • Display NameMEMBER

      And remember our universities are the 3rd or 4th choice after US, Canada and the UK. So the candidates we get here are typically here because they didnt have the creds to get into any other country.

  9. Let me just favorite this page and prepare for the next time foreign students comes up on the reddits. It will be pleasurable to shove this in the faces of anyone still in denial about the fake export, foreign edu-migration industry. We live in a fake world now.

    • HyperNormalisation, quite a long documentary, seen it a few times, quite interesting content too. Left me thinking, the human condition (whatever that means), how fked up it is,

    • He was second on the list, Melissa Caddick was the preferred candidate but was unable to attend the final interview