“Bottom feeders” fuel international student ponzi scheme


Australia is experiencing an unprecedented boom in international students, which is driving the nation’s record-breaking net overseas migration and rental crisis.

According to the Department of Home Affairs, there were a record 673,000 student visas on issue in October, which was more than 100,000 above the pre-pandemic peak:

The number of graduate visas on issue was also almost 100.000 above the pre-pandemic peak:


Separate Department of Education data shows that the increase in students has been driven by India and other poor nations:

International student numbers

Earlier this year, a parliamentary inquiry heard evidence of private vocational education and training (VET) providers working with unregulated education agents to steal foreign students from prestigious universities for large commissions, to sell work visas, and to build “ghost colleges” where students do not attend classes but are awarded degrees.

The Age then reported that these ‘ghost colleges’ were poaching thousands of international students from universities.

“There is unacceptable behaviour and manipulation of the migration system by some private vocational colleges and dodgy agents”, said federal Labor MP Julian Hill.


The AFR then reported that huge volumes of ‘students’ from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Bhutan were enrolling in dodgy vocational colleges as a means of accessing permanent migration.

“The college bottom feeder syndrome is threatening the reputation of the sector”, warned Phil Honeywood, CEO of the International Education Association of Australia.

“Dodgy providers are poaching students who often don’t want to be taught and are just using the system as an expensive means of accessing the workforce”.


On Monday, The SMH reported that “education agents are pocketing record commission fees from some top NSW universities which have become increasingly reliant on the brokers in a highly competitive international student market”.

“NSW public universities spent at least $147 million on the commissions last year, but students are largely in the dark on the portion of their tuition fees that go to the agents, prompting calls for regulation and transparency in the growing sector”.

“About 76% of 2022 international student enrolments at universities came to Australia through education agents, according to the latest federal government data, up from 61% 10 years ago”.

All of which has been brought to you by Australia’s astronomically paid university vice-chancellors and their greedy senior administrators who treat students like cattle and pile them into crowded classrooms:

Student to staff ratio

Australia should be aiming for a smaller intake of higher-quality students.


Universities and private colleges should also be stopped from privatising the gains from unprecedented volumes of international student enrollments while the costs are borne by Australians at large, particularly renters.

Sadly, the Albanese Government has doubled-down on the scam by signing migration agreements with India that grants five-year student visas and eight-year post-study work visas.

Therefore, instead of clamping down on the rorting by lifting entry standards to courses, Albo’s Labor has instead opened the door even wider.


The lunatics have taken control of the asylum.

About the author
Leith van Onselen is Chief Economist at the MB Fund and MB Super. He is also a co-founder of MacroBusiness. Leith has previously worked at the Australian Treasury, Victorian Treasury and Goldman Sachs.