The CCP trade war on Australia is a sight to behold. It has already delivered Australia a reinvigorated ANZUS, and iron ore led income boom, and the very accelerated export decoupling that we desperately needed but couldn’t do owing to CCP’s corruption of local politicians and businesses.
In February, Beijing identified the collapse of Australian pedagogical standards driven by international students:
- The Chinese Ministry of Education (CME) complained that Aussie universities are delivering sub-standard courses in China JVs.
- According to CME, universities have under-invested and failed to deliver quality Australian staff numbers.
- An audit of the courses was forthcoming.
- The Chinese courses are often part of package degrees that then bring Chinese kids to Australia.
- As expected, the Australian universities denied the CME’s claims.
This action by CME was clearly a shot across the bows for Chinese students attending Australian universities.
A new ANU paper now warns that the CCP is likely to further restrict studying in Australia:
The paper, to be released on Wednesday, says education is Australia’s only remaining export to China valued at more than $10bn a year that Beijing can target without doing significant harm to itself.
At the same time, the paper says, action by China to reduce the flow of students will do major damage to Australia for two reasons.
First, Australian universities and other education providers do not have alternative markets available to replace Chinese students.
Second, the paper says, international education creates a large number of jobs in Australia and international student revenue funds research that is closely linked to Australia’s economic competitiveness.
“Coercion against the sector would significantly impact Australia’s prosperity,” the paper says.
All of this was foreshadowed in 2019 in Salvatore Babones’ seminal paper, The China Student Boom and the Risks It Poses to Australian Universities. This showed that Australian universities hade become dangerously dependent on Chinese students, with concentrations that dwarf similar advanced nations:
Another paper prepared for the Business Council and Asia Society warned that the excessive concentration of Chinese students at Australia’s universities had stifled free speech and debate, as well as compromised academic integrity:
“Far from serving to diversity the student cohort, the dependence on Chinese students has instituted a form of classroom monoculturalism in which encouraging students to embrace the values of academic integrity and free debate, and facilitating the development of core capabilities in critical thinking, effective English communication and cross-cultural competence, have become increasingly difficult,” Professor Shields writes…
The report recommends that universities “tighten academic and English-language standards for Chinese students”, requiring higher scores in the Chinese end-of-school exam, the Gao Kao, and put more emphasis on the International Baccalaureate as an entry examination…
Excessive numbers of Chinese students at our universities perverted the very ethos of knowledge and learning via:
- Repeated scandals whereby free speech was violently suppressed (e.g. the Drew Pavlou affair).
- Universities aiding and abetting CCP persecution via intellectual property deals.
- Academics being captured via “global talent” schemes that double their incomes.
- Student unions being turned into Chinese lobbies and Confucious Institutes pumping straight propaganda into coursework.
- Pedagogical standards being smashed in order to teach and pass sub-standard, non-English speakers.
These developments were disastrous for the long-run productivity and prosperity of Australia, which hinges upon quality education.
There were also wider negative externalities, such as the crush-loading of infrastructure in the major cities, the crushing of wage growth, and rising property prices and rents.
In short, having too many foreign students, especially Chinese, was a net negative for wider living standards (though that is no fault of the individuals).
In this regard, any action by the CCP to curtail student numbers is another one of the delightful ironies of the great Chinese decoupling that will hopefully continue.
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