Posts Tagged ‘international students’

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.

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Bye bye Starbucks: A ‘foreigner’s’ take

Starbucks Fuck OffI remember it as clear as day. It was December 1996 when Starbucks opened her flagship stall opposite Liat Towers along busy Orchard Road in Singapore. I was 17 years old then, straight out of high school and heavily influenced by the Star-Spangled Banner and everything Hollywood. Prior to Starbucks, the only coffee I knew was the straight black variety roasted from beans. Sugar or condensed milk could be added to it for flavor enhancements, and it cost about $0.70 for a cuppa. When Starbucks opened, young Singaporeans were riding on a wave on technological advancements (that was a period when pagers were still cool and mobile phones were rare as they were too expensive) and liked to see and seen. Naturally, Starbucks became a hit.

Myself? I do admit to having – at that time – an overpriced Frappuccino every week or so. Young adults don’t baulk at paying $5-$8 for a coffee. In hindsight, it does seem excessive as one can get a complete meal for $5 in Singapore. “What’s that?” you say, “A cuppa coffee costs more than dinner?!” Damn right. I remember having a conversation about how cool it was to be seen consuming a Starbucks coffee with my dad. He’s old school and subscribes to the old Asian ethos of working hard and saving every penny, and doesn’t quite understand the excesses of life. Naturally our Starbucks conversation ended before you could say ‘That’s not carrot cake!’**

There isn’t a coffee (or cafe) culture in this part of the world; couple that with Singaporeans’ receptiveness to new foreign products (mainly America, which means it’s good) and we have a pseudo-coffee addiction. Of course, who the hell knows what a cafe latte, cappucino, long black or white coffee is? Fucking hell, give me a Venti Oreo Frappuccino with whipped cream please. Or if I’m feeling something warm (seldom though, due to the sickening humid weather), I order a vanilla latte. Singaporeans are happy and contented with that. There’s no need to venture out to experience the real coffee or cafe culture. Afterall, Singaporeans are a pretty sheltered bunch, and as long as it’s from America, it’s good. What’s good for America must be good for Singaporeans.

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