Foreign students and #immigration – some extra background to #4Corners expose

The ABC TV program Four Corners has this week provided contemporary insights into problems surrounding the recruitment and education in Australia of international students. Degrees of Deception revealed corruption, plagiarism, lowering of assessment standards, poor English skills and misunderstanding of professional ethics. These problems affect not only the university sector but its graduates: they emerge as ill-equipped (and sometimes dangerous) for employment, whether in their home countries or here in Australia.

The program also drew attention to the implications for Australia’s immigration program: ‘Right now the country’s 40 universities are pulling in billions of dollars from students who are desperate for a degree from an Australian university and the possibility of a job and permanent residency.’

Does this sound like an immigration problem waiting to happen? Actually, it has been long under way. Warnings about the risks to Australia’s education system through the recruitment of international students were sounded in the late 1970s. Since then, many have observed and warned about the abuse of the educational system to fast-track migration outcomes.

Take a look at these gems:

  • From 1987 to at least 1991, ‘the Federal Government resisted advice to strengthen controls on foreign students taking short-term courses in Australia despite evidence that criminals and prostitutes were entering the country on student visas.’
    The Age, 27 March 1991
  • In 1993, the Federal Government ‘waived a requirement that [international] students have one year’s work experience before applying for a visa to live here’.
    Herald Sun, 19 December 1993
  • ‘Our prostituted education system, especially at tertiary level, is seriously addicted to a source of funding which needs to be wound back. Universities might do well out of fee paying foreign students, but for society as a whole this may not be the case. If Australian-born students are excluded from University or from desirable courses, social tensions are created that have a significant cost not always discernible.’
    Graeme Campbell, MHR Kalgoorlie, 20 December 1997
  • ‘Illegal immigrants are sneaking in Australia’s back door by applying for, and being readily granted, student visas. … [Immigration Minister Mr Ruddock] said that while foreign students contributed $500 million a year to Australia’s annual income, the system was also used to jump the immigration queue’.
    Adelaide Advertiser, 2 February 1998
  • ‘Four Indonesian students have become [Victoria’s] first convicted dealers of a deadly new designer drug known as ice’.
    Herald Sun, 22 January 1999

So these problems are not new, although Four Corners chose not to tease out the immigration implications.

Australia’s excellence in education is now as compromised as its immigration program.

[Further reading: The ‘Background Information’ section on the Degrees of Deception webpage provides a useful bibliography, from the present back to February 2007.]

[Update, 2016 – Here is a useful insight on the medical bills racked up by overseas students and other immigrants without health insurance: ‘Foreigners rack up millions in sick bills’ by Sean Parnell, The Australian, 18 March 2016.]


Reflecting on #ReduceImmigration activism over three decades – a Melbourne talk

Denis McCormack, founder of the REDUCE IMMIGRATION campaign, will speak in Melbourne about his activism over the last three decades. Readers of this web-site are welcome to attend this free event.

Friday 24 April 2015 at 7.30 pm

Reflections, questions & answers on 28 years of REDUCE IMMIGRATION activism

ESU House, 146 Toorak Road West, South Yarra (stop 27 on the No. 8 tram route)

To assist with seating arrangements, please advise your attendance by telephone (+61 3 9866 3007)  before 1 pm on 24 April. This phone number has a message-bank facility.

During the early 1980s Mr McCormack spent over two years learning Mandarin, teaching English and travelling around the People’s Republic of China. He has been the Australian corespondent for a US quarterly journal, The Social Contract, since 1992. From the late 1980s to late 1990s he was a founding member, office bearer and sometimes electoral candidate, researcher for both Australians Against Further Immigration and Graeme Campbell’s Australia First Party. He worked as an adviser to Graeme Campbell (Labor then Independent MP for Kalgoorlie 1980-98) in his Canberra Parliamentary office, and  today remains an independent researcher involved with

Will Population Growth Q&A @wheelercentre tackle the #ReduceImmigration challenge?

The next event in the Wheeler Centre’s ‘Question Time’ series will focus on Population Growth.

If you are in Melbourne on Wednesday 13 May, from 6.15 to 7.15 pm, you may wish to attend and participate in the discussion.

Here’s the blurb from the Wheeler Centre’s website:

Through a full hour of Q&A with our expert panellists, we’ll explore the many facets of the population question in Australia, and how they intersect with the broader implications of a burgeoning global population. Has there been a true governmental strategy since Rudd’s Big Australia? What are the current trends in Australia’s population growth, and how have they changed? And what advances are we seeing in food, water and energy systems to support communities around the world?

Host Madeleine Morris will facilitate your discussion with panellists including environmentalist and former Australian Conservation Foundation president Ian Lowe, environmental policy and urban planning expert Michael Buxton, and internationally-renowned medical anthropologist, social historian and public health researcher Lenore Manderson.

Big questions for the panel to address must be about the impact of our current high rate of growth through immigration, and what the Australian government should be doing to REDUCE IMMIGRATION.

During his term as president of the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), Ian Lowe prevaricated over this issue. The ACF’s failure to adhere to its own policy statement (‘ACF urges the Commonwealth to reduce net migration to a level that is consistent with a goal of environmental sustainability’) was the subject of our post in late January.

The event at the Wheeler Centre is free of charge, but bookings are requested via this web page. The Wheeler Centre is located at 176 Little Lonsdale Street, in the State Library of Victoria complex.