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Birrell in The Australian Higher Ed

From Bernard Lane in The Australian Higher Ed:

Student visa ‘hangover’ under Labor worsens.  New figures reveal the severity of the hangover from the “cooks and hairdressers” period when inter­national students overwhelmed Australia’s skilled migration program.

Two-thirds of 61,771 students given special treatment because they were here when the government announced a stricter skilled migration system have gone on to win permanent residency or bridging visas, the Immigration Department said.

Monash University labour market researcher Bob Birrell said this insight into the generosity of the 2010 concessions made by then immigration minister Chris Evans gelled with the prominence of ex-overseas students in the skilled migration program for 2012-13.

“The result is that the current skilled migration program has very little to do with the actual skills needs of Australia but is heavily impacted by the dreadful mistake they made in early 2010,” Dr Birrell said….’

The Australian Higher Ed again promoting Dr. Bob Birrell’s anti immigration and xenophobic views?  Is he not satisfied that now the terms student visa, Indian student, private college, cookery and hairdressing courses have become pejorative terms in Australian discourse? 

Why not focus upon state government regulators and federal departments including education, immigration, Austrade etc. whom are responsible for implementation, management and review of the system?  The ‘marketing’ model preferred by Australian international education sector which focuses upon short term promotion and sales from the easiest and most lucrative markets in Asia.

This is then used by The Australian to carry on political attacks after Labor has been voted out of government, although study to PR was implemented under the previous Howard regime, i.e. bipartisan?

Good example of how data can be presented to support a negative conclusion, as developed and encouraged by John Tanton’s network and their writer’s workshops for whom Bob Birrell has been central in not just Australia, but also in Tanton’s journal The Social Contract Press.

Whilst professional bodies such as Australian Health Workforce are able to discredit Birrell’s ‘research’ or more correctly, his personal views and biases, his data and subjective claims are taken at face value without context by The Australian.

The article speaks of ‘cooks and hairdressers’ then quotes figures of all international students i.e. 61,771 given ‘special treatment’ suggesting they are all cooks and hairdressers?

Further, Birrell as he likes to do, focuses upon significant numbers of Indian students, and when many Indian students were subjected to violence he again claimed to the US Consulate that ‘white Australians’ (?!) would not do this, but other immigrants would….

Claims without evidence that skilled immigration program has nothing to do with actual skills needed… while making no comparison with outcomes of education and training for Australian students.

Failed to mention fact that TAFEs across Australia were also targetting cookery and hairdressing students, as universities do for accounting, health, education, engineering, IT etc..

Claims that 17,796 PR visas for ex students in skilled migration residency equate to 30%, which could be also be described as between 5-10% in whole immigration program.

Neither Birrell nor The Australian has given any context, i.e. the size of these occupations in Australia, and in the case of cookery related, significant turnover, and underlying population trends exemplified by baby boomer bubble starting to retire, while Australian students are pushed towards higher education.

‘Of the 63,048 skilled migration visas given in 2012-13, cooks were the No. 1 occupation, 16.1 % of total’. 

This equates to 10,000 of a workforce estimated to be around 300,000, with historically high turnover, i.e. about 3.5%, but this figure does not create any alarm?

I don’t think The Australian Higher Ed will do itself or its university ‘sponsors’ any favours by referring to Bob Birrell when he focuses upon other occupations and study areas preferred by Asian students e.g. accounting, engineering, health, IT etc., especially when his conclusions will be negative.

Birrell’s views and association with the John Tanton Network should not be a surprise to anyone, following are some views on his ‘research’ and activities:

One Response to “Birrell in The Australian Higher Ed”

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