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Australian International Education Overseas Students University Income Immigration and Population

Come to our international rescue. A DROP in foreign students will have crippling economic and social effects. FOREIGN students are in retreat, with universities vocally predicting alarming repercussions.

Monash appears to be the first Group of Eight casualty. Prospective students say new rules, for student and residency visas, put Australia in the too-hard basket. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen defends the reforms. We need to ask him why we continue to put all foreigners – migrants, refugees, international students, international visitors – into one simple category, thereby undermining our relations with the rest of the world. Of the 630,000 students in the country in December last year, fewer than 10 per cent will become permanent residents this year. What do the other 90 per cent do? If they are not still studying, they go home, they provide benefit to their communities from their experience in Australia, they become ambassadors for our country. This complements the work of Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Trade Minister Craig Emerson.

Vice-chancellors call for student visas. FOREIGN students should be given a special visa and taken out of the immigration statistics. This would quarantine education from the overheated politics of population, according to University of NSW chief Fred Hilmer. The visa would allow a student to stay for a qualification plus two to three years’ work experience in a related field. Any request to migrate would be dealt with separately in the immigration system. “But you don’t count those [students] as immigrants, they’re not entitled to be immigrants. It will dissociate study from immigration, it will depoliticise it,” he said. Students visas bring no entitlement to migrate but, beginning in 2001, policy helped create an industry based on qualifications that led to skilled migration.

Overseas students less able to afford us. OVERSEAS students yet to decide where they will study are less able to rely on money from parents, just as Australia becomes a more costly choice. Researcher Rob Lawrence said a September survey of 1127 potential overseas students suggested a more price-sensitive market for Australian providers. “Contrary to last year, when [students] were saying that parents entirely funded them, it now seems that more and more students are going to have to be self-funded alongside their parents,” he said. More than 50 per cent of prospective students could not rely on parental income alone. “That means we’re going to have to [recruit students] who can afford to come here in an era when [education and] living costs are rising,” Mr Lawrence said. More than 60 per cent of prospective students expressed very high levels of agreement with the statement that “Australia has increased the costs of education”.

The Elephant in the room, or the phenomenon that hath no name in Australia….. Surely these issues should have been identified some years ago when politicians, media and anti immigrationists started an orchestrated campaign, viewed by many as a proxy racist or “white Australia” debate, targetting foreigners, refugees, immigrants, overseas students, population growth etc. for political gain and personal beliefs.

AIEC QUEST Australian International Education Centre Europe.

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