Universities’ latest international students plan threatens Australia

The Victorian Government’s revised hotel quarantine program resumed yesterday after being paused for five months last year following the destructive second wave outbreak and again from mid-February after virus again leaked into the community prompting another hard lockdown.

Thus, after being closed for roughly half the time since its inception in late March 2020 after causing outbreaks that shut Melbourne down for 114 days at the cost of many billions of dollars, the state’s revived quarantine program will now accept 800 returned travellers per week initially before ramping up to 1120 arrivals on 15 April.

With this background in mind, it is disturbing to read that Victoria’s universities have launched another daft plan to fly thousands of international students into Melbourne, whereby flights and quarantine in separate hotel accommodation would be subsidised by taxpayers:

Under the university-backed proposal, about 1000 foreign students would be flown into Melbourne every two to three weeks and placed into special hotel lockdown arrangements…

The Victorian universities propose flying students on chartered flights from China and India…

Universities have offered to help pay for flights, medical testing, transport, and quarantine facilities. Students and the state government would also make contributions to the scheme…

The City of Melbourne has proposed its own plan including charter flights for students.

This plan is wrong on so many levels.

First, there are still tens-of-thousands of Australians stranded abroad. As a matter of principle, their needs should be met before non-resident foreign students.

Second, it is scandalous for taxpayers to subsidise the importation of foreign students when actual Australians have to pay steep quarantine fees and hefty airfares.

Third, having thousands of international students quarantining in hotels or student accommodation risks further virus outbreaks and hard lockdowns, which would cost the entire economy billions as well as put lives at risk.

The virus is running rampant in India, so why would we want to put Victorians at risk for the sake of lining university coffers?

India COVID cases

COVID-19 is out of control in India.

As usual, our rent-seeking universities are displaying classic moral hazard behaviour. They want to privatise the financial benefits from having international students’ return, while the costs and risks are borne by taxpayers and the broader community. It’s classic heads I win, tails you lose behaviour.

What happens if these international students breach quarantine and leak virus into the community, causing more lockdowns? Will the universities then be sued by the government and forced to pay reparations?

Given universities stand to be the main financial beneficiaries from this plan, they should be forced to pick up the cost for any failures that result in virus outbreaks.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. Just listened on ABC that Honeypot guy, head of “international student trafficking australia inc.” (or some such other sounding name!) bemoaning the lack of vaccine for o/seas students etc & how this is costing Australia so much etc etc blah blah. That number has somehow gone from $18b in 2016 (total made up number then..) to now being touted as worth north of $40b. Who makes this crap up?
    It is even more annoying that not one single journalist ever challenges the bold statement that it is worth $40b.

  2. reusachtigeMEMBER

    We need to bring in international students immediately so that we can get our universities booming again. It’s not fair that they are missing out on this boom.

    • Exactly. Anyways, don’t worry. Straya has no other choice. I mean, what else is left to sell?

  3. LabrynthMEMBER

    I thought universities were not for profit and the international students help pay for the facilities to ensure that all local aussie kids can go to univerity. Wasn’t it Gillard that said she wanted to see everyone have a university degree?

    • These neo liberal types always tend to convieniently leave out the agency issues with the middle-men. Mostly cause it is either them or one of their mates that clips the ticket or straight out extorts the at juncture of going out of one pocket and into another. They provide such economically vital lubing for the movement of funds they must deserve a nice chunk of the action. /s

  4. MathiasMEMBER

    I loved University. I could of stayed there forever.

    My hatred of Universitys wasnt about the knowledge because actually, I was a kid in a candy store. Leith has put into words exactly what I saw, except I was a Student and saw it from within.

    I got paid to do peoples assignments for them ( should I have admitted to that? ha ha ) so I had a fair idea what was coming for me in the MBA and beyond. The fee’s for University are preposterous. No jobs in the real world for that kind of stuff. Government blowing up Australia with high house prices practically cratering the Business Sector. Immigration.

    You dont know this stuff when your at University until after. Leiths got it spot on.

    I remember sitting in a Lecture filled with Asians and Foreigners, thinking to myself… ” Am I the only Aussie here? “. It wasnt just that University wanted more money but that they’d literally priced Aussies out of the market ( degrees are insanely expensive now ) and designed for Foreigners. Universities are not designed for Australians. They are designed for foreigners and if your an Aussie who goes to University and walks through the pearly gates, you pretty much feel that straight away. Your a foreigner in your own land.

    Its not worth $1000 bucks per course. ( Yes… and you do 4-6 per semester so thats $6k… and a degree lasts for 6 years so thats what… around $100,000 for a Degree… just to have a shiny piece of paper… for a Country which barely has any jobs in it anyway.

    When you have a degree and there’s no jobs, obvious solution is start your own business. I did that for a few years. If anything makes you hate Baby Boomers more then anything on this earth… its having them as a client for your Business.

    Leith has great views on this but one thing I would put forward is you need to have jobs at the other end. A major problem in Australia is precisely that fact. I love the idea of having great Universities but unless we have jobs on the other end, degrees are as useful as toilet paper.

    Far be it that I’d ever tell Leith anything ( guys an expert economist lol ) but I just cant see Australia having any jobs for the next 17 years. Its fighting a good fight, which I full agree with but… Australias Buggered.

    Australian Politicians are a spiteful bunch. Im expecting them to arrogantly play divide and conquer as they put anyone who supports there agendas up on a pedestal while demonising practically everyone else. ” Give me what I want or I’ll screw you ” kind of deal. If we cant steal free energy from migrants then I suspect woman will be the next targets lol. They have energy. They are stupid. They work for free. They crawl up the governments a$$ and do whatever they are told to do. It makes sense that Feminists are about to become the next ‘Governments Pets’. Im expecting Australia to ‘Empower’ its females and ram it then in mens faces… in an attempt to force men to give the Government what they want.

    All this data. All these statistics lol. I dunno. Whats it worth really? Print some money and suddenly, your GDP’s faaaabulous.

    Im not convinced ha ha. If there’s one thing Im learning about all this… its that everyone Lies ha ha ( MB and present company excepted lol ). Liars, Liars everywhere. Im not convinced by any of it.

    If todays home owners are the hero’s of the nation or tommorrows ’empowered woman’ then whatever. Good on them. I hope they have a great time. All I see are a bunch of people telling Lies, trying to manipulate Australians after the horrendous 20 years they’ve pulled and trying to find ways to make us give a sh*t.

    Australia has a lot to answer for. This country has 20 years to repay back todays Young and frankly, Im not going to fall for any of it.

    Australia likes to play one person against another in the hopes ‘Divide and Conquer’ will make us better slaves. They arent dividing me. I’ll cut myself off from all of it and Australias got no power over me.

    You cant blackmail someone with Migrants when you remove yourself from the Workforce. You cant blackmail someone with woman when remove yourself from that.

    This Country is practically on its hands and knees in the search for money. We all know whats coming. Im just not going to play. The only person that matters in my life is ME… and its hard for the Government to blackmail that.

    • “I could of stayed there forever.” -> I could have stayed there forever.
      “My hatred of Universitys wasnt..” -> My hatred of universities wasn’t…
      “I got paid to do peoples assignments for them” -> I got paid to do people’s assignments for them
      “The fee’s for University” – > The fees for university
      “You dont know this stuff when your at University until after” -> You don’t know this stuff when you’re at university. Only after.
      “Leiths got it spot on.” -> Leith’s got it spot on.

      …and many more.

      I like a lot of what you say, but I’m shocked that you even got in to university with writing like that.

      • Andrew2MEMBER

        Whats it worth really? -> What’s
        They arent dividing me.- > aren’t
        If todays home owners are the hero’s -> heroes is the plural.
        20 years to repay back todays Young and frankly -> today’s

        Dealing with apostrophes seems to be problem for a lot of people. It casts doubt on the writer’s attention to detail amongst other things.

      • “I like a lot of what you say”

        Really? Then you need as much help as he does.

        The spelling and punctuation are the least of it.

    • reusachtigeMEMBER

      “I loved University. I could of stayed there forever.”

      Still on the cones but hey bloke!

  5. Universities are another great example of a business totally unable to respond to changed market conditions.

    • SoCalSurfCreeperMEMBER

      They absolutely could respond. For idealogical and financial reasons they don’t want to.

  6. “As a matter of principle…” We’ve chosen to elect a government that puts profit over principal. Repeatedly.

  7. Lord DudleyMEMBER

    Meanwhile, SA just shipped in 200 Tongans with another 1000 on the way for fruit picking. $7 million in quarantine costs, joint funded by the government and industry.

    Of course, there’s been no real attempt to get locals to do it, and there’s the usual whinge about how Australians won’t do it. Unemployment is high… I’m sure if the $7 million in quarantine costs (plus thousands in flight costs) were instead used to help locals get to the regions, positions would be filled.


    Australians hate their own youth, whether unemployed, or stranded overseas. Convince me otherwise.