Eh…just one little thing Australian universities do not do…

International students (from left) Seonah Kim, Lee Hee Jin, Lee Naree and Moustafa Ibrahim, outside Hawthorn-Melbourne College, are unhappy with the way they have been treated

International students (from left) Seonah Kim, Lee Hee Jin, Lee Naree and Moustafa Ibrahim, outside Hawthorn-Melbourne College, are unhappy with the way they have been treated

I pity these kids. They, along with 194 other fellow students from various part of the world, have become victims of a university scandal. Actually, I’ll call it whatever I like. Myopic Australian University Bureaucracy. Let’s Keep Hush ‘Coz They Don’t Speak English Anyway. Let’s Fuck With These Kids ‘Coz If They’re Rich Enough To Study Here, They Are Rich Enough To Fly Home.

It’s not the first time International Students have been fucked in the ass blindside and not given a sympathy kleenex to clean up. Australian universities market their education really differently from most internationally-recognized institutions. There’s a great disparity in marketing tactics between North American and Australian universities. While an average North American college markets herself based on the strength of their education (with no hidden agendas), their antipodean neighbours come with sharpened knives with dollar signs in their eyes.

In Asia, where Australian universities have a huge presence, there’s an untapped minefield of cash cows just waiting to be milked. In Singapore alone, there are at least three ‘international studying’ fairs a year, and Australian universities take up 85% of the shelf space. The figures vary for different universities, but an average of 20% of an Australian university’s funding is kept afloat by ‘off-shore’ money.

I never agreed with the exorbitant sums that foreign students had to pay, and I never will. When I graduated from RMIT last year, my university fees had gone up by 6 – 8% every year from 2005 to 2007. There are almost four Australian students ($5,000) for every International Student on an average university fee of A$19,500 annually (yes, shock gasp horror). Of course there are full-fee paying Aussies within our midst, but they are few are far between. No prizes for guessing why Australia still lauds itself as a world-class education minefield when all they’re really concerned about is keeping their universities afloat with (mostly) Asian money and to keep their staff employed.

But I digress.

Just wish to tell ALL International Students that they might not be seen as human beings in Australia, but they have their basic human rights. Go to the relevant authorities within campus if you feel that you’ve been bullied. When a university threatens you with deportation (and a phonecall to the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship is just moments away), they never follow up on it. I don’t know many personally, but hundreds of International Students (friends of my friends) graduate each year without having to attend at least 80% of their classes. In fact, many fail to attend most lectures and a pittance of tutorials and still graduate with good grades.

Think about it. You are seen as a cash cow and the university needs you to keep their accounts in the black and their bored, fat, white, senior partners in the office. Why would they want to kick you out?

Picture and photo: CRAIG ABRAHAM

7 Comments so far

  1. alextokai on August 19th, 2008 @ 12:40 pm

    Most universities hate that they have to have full-fee places at all, let alone ones for international students. This is an initiative that the government forced on them by retracting their funding, literally saying that they would have to make up the difference by opening these places. Worse than the fat, white, senior University partners are the fat, white, senior politicians who want to get rid of all this socialist HECS/HELP stuff.

    This is a sad time for tertiary education in Australia – even the new Labor government failed to address the problem and now every year it gets worse – where institutions have to take money from students if they are to maintain their standards as educators.

    The majority of G8 (Group of Eight) universities are now in a position where they are cutting staff and programs just so that they can survive. Look at Melbourne’s Faculty of Arts or Monash’s Faculty of IT who are both well in the red and fighting to keep their heads above water.

  2. brappy on August 20th, 2008 @ 8:42 pm

    I think you’re missing some of the point of different tuition rates.

    In the United States, at public universities, residents of the state the university is located in get subsidised tuition, at a lower rate. Students from out-of-state pay a much higher (3 or 4 times more) rate. Students from out of the country pay somewhat higher fees than out-of-state students, partly because they are a higher administrative burden on the university.

    At my alma mater, the University of Washington, a university owned by the state of Washington, as a resident of Washington, I would pay $6882 USD a year to attend. Someone from out-of-state would pay $23,219USD a year. International students pay the $23K rate, but have some hefty fees levied upon them. The ESL programs are about $1,000 a year more than the Non-Resident rate. The ESL program doesn’t receive any funding from the state.

    The rationale for these fees is that the mission of a public university is to educate the people of that state; others can attend, but they have to pay the full cost of their education.

    This is normal in the United States. It’s the same in Canada.

    Now, in Taiwan, where I did some undergraduate study, things were just cheap, and well, I got what I paid for… but that’s a different matter.

  3. adrock2xander (mel_john) on August 20th, 2008 @ 9:37 pm

    I’m not disputing the tuition rates. I’m angry that Australian universities target International Students, particularly those who can’t speak English, as cash cows and milk them for as much as they’re worth. The way they market their education abroad in those study fairs leaves much to be desired as well.

    I’m guessing the state fee applies because there are so many states in USA? As far as I know (also partly due to the number of states in Australia) students from other states pay the same as a student from say, Victoria. Also, lesser population + less states = lesser no. of universities + lesser competition.

    So many classic cases in Australian universities to back up my argument. The big story before this Melbourne College huzzah was last year’s CQU messy affair with Indian students. CQU markets themselves as a great uni, but they’re one massive con operation. As if failing a whole business class of Indian students (when most did well enough) wasn’t enough, they demanded those students pay up additional fees to re-enrol. What shocks me is CQU still exists and tries to sell themselves.

    On a side note, the universities need to STOP telling International Students that they’ll be expelled if they fail to attend 80% of their classes. If some fuckwit rich brat chick from Malaysia (personal experience here) who turns up for 5 of 13 weeks and ends up with a Distinction, what does it say about the system?

  4. brappy on August 22nd, 2008 @ 9:49 pm

    Was that your argument? To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what this whole post was about.

    Students in the Republic of China/Taiwan (ROC)are expelled if you miss 10 hours of class total each term. In the US, it’s something similar. It’s a requirement of the respective immigration departments to ensure you aren’t working (which in the ROC, everyone is anyway).

    I think your issue is with the way International Education is marketed globally, because this problem isn’t country-specific.

    Regarding the "fuckwit" (what is that anyway? You use that word in every post, it seems), good on her for getting a distinction for turning up 5/13 weeks. In the US, I once got a 4.0/4.0 in a class I attended twice. I also got 3.7 and 3.8/4.0 in other classes I barely attended. I didn’t think this was an issue with the US, I just enjoyed having extra time to drink coffee and think about life, rather than sit in on classes.

  5. brappy on August 22nd, 2008 @ 9:52 pm

    Oh, and the Immigration Department requires this:
    "You must maintain satisfactory attendance in your course and course progress for each study period as required by your education provider." (Reference here. The Universities are required then to set a bar, and it sounds like that bar is 80% attendance. I don’t think that’s unreasonable. Do you?

  6. adrock2xander (mel_john) on August 23rd, 2008 @ 1:38 am

    The post is about how International Students need not fulfill 80% of their attendance to ‘pass’ a subject. I started with a long spiel before I indicated I was digressing. (I quote, "But I digress.") <—- surely it wasn’t that hard to read?!?!!?!?!?

    Yeah Immigration says one thing, but universities don’t follow up. They restrict International Students to only 20 hours a week of work, but I know many who work over 45 hours a week. That’s illegal and universities know about it but DO NOT do anything about it because they just want $$ from foreign students. And universities NEVER adhere to the 80% attendance rule. If *insert International Student name here* is able to get a Distinction despite missing 80% of her classes, something is very wrong with the system.

    Oh and btw, definition of fuckwit:

  7. zaq2u on August 26th, 2008 @ 11:32 am

    I personally feels that educational institutions around the world are just another business. Gone were the days where great emphasis was placed in the ‘real’ academics achievements. This business mentallity is resonnated not only by the institution itself, but the parents too who were educated by these capitalistic institutions.

    Today, everything is so commercialised, even local colleges, the so-called better private ones are charging at least $20K + per annual per student. Can you hear the cash register spilling? Cash cow suckers can be found locally too.

    They claim that the teachers are better and lessons are better structured than the public ones? Why is there such discrepancy between the public and private schools? Did not all the teachers and principals came from the same factory?

    The point is, education is a business today. It no longer place great emphasis on ethics and quality of academics achievements ‘for’ the students or should I say only for those who can afford them or the few gifted ones. Good Achievements are marketing tools, so it can be created too, right?

    ‘Education is business’ syndrome doesnt just stop at fee charged by schools. The willing clients (parents) today pay through their nose to send their kids to rich schools to network with rich kids too. Their vision is far more further than just getting a good education. They want to start their kid early, giving them a good ‘head start’. Hopefully their kid can rub shoulder with the next possible tycoon or prime minister.

    In my opinion, international students arent the only cash cow. Even the local students are cash cow too. It all voice down to DEMAND / SUPPLY and perceived value. If people believe they are buying ‘quality’ stuff, there will be more then many who are willing to supply them the ‘perceived value’, especially the well dressed suits who can sell aircons to eskimos.


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