Australian University report criticises ‘cash cow’ policy

THE federal government failed to safeguard Indian students because of its fixation with income from the lucrative international education industry and its desperate need to tackle labour shortages, a new analysis has found.

“The policy linking education and migration was aimed at getting ‘designer migrants’ to satisfy Australia’s needs for a younger professional labour force at little cost,” says a paper published by Monash University’s Centre for Population and Urban Research.

It says students were poorly served by government policy linking education, skilled labour and migration, and this contributed to Indian students becoming vulnerable to racism.

Advertisement: Story continues below

// The analysis comes after criticism that international students have been exploited as “cash cows”.

The paper says the link between education and permanent residency attracted unprecedented numbers of fee-paying students with poor English from rural India, particularly into vocational education. There are now more than 400,000 Indians living in Australia, with Indian students comprising nearly one-third of that community.

The research says a lack of “student-centredness in the educational/migration/skilled labour policy” meant inadequate regulation of educational standards, growth of unscrupulous agents and poor safety and security left students vulnerable.

“Another reason for the policy failure was that policy was focused solely on educational income and labour outcomes rather than on the motivations of the students and potential migrants,” the paper says.

International education, a $17 billion industry, is Australia’s third-largest export earner. It is Victoria’s biggest export industry, bringing in more than $4 billion a year to the state.

The federal government last year moved to tighten skilled migration rules and crack down on unscrupulous colleges. The reforms are aimed at weakening the link between education and migration by shifting to a demand-driven skilled migration program.

Sally Tindall, a spokeswoman for Education Minister Julia Gillard, blames the previous Coalition government for the problems in the industry. She says: “The Howard government opened up the gates for student visas without any due thought for proper regulation of the industry or its long-term viability. Since coming into government we’ve been working hard to get the appropriate regulations in place.”

The Rudd government, which took office in 2007, started introducing reforms last year after media revelations of “dodgy” colleges and violent attacks on Indian students made international headlines.

The analysis by RMIT academics Supriya Singh and Anuja Cabraal is based on 41 interviews with first and second-generation Indian migrants, and religious and community leaders.

They say that, unlike previous professional Indians who came from large cities and migrated with their families from the 1970s onwards, recent Indian migrants are largely students who are often financially stressed. The family investment in education as a pathway to migration is based on expectations of future prosperity for the student migrant and for his or her family, they say.

“In the small towns and villages of Punjab [from where many students migrate], the excitement was not about the excellence of Australia’s education, but the brick houses that have been built with the money sent home by migrants,” they say.

In 2008, India received $US52 billion ($A62 billion) in remittances from around the world.

Interestingly, the researchers directly connect poor government policy with racial attacks on Indian students. “They have also been poorly served by the government’s policy linking education, skilled labour and migration. These factors are contributing to Indian students becoming vulnerable to racism, particularly in the streets of Melbourne,” they say.

Police say Indian students are vulnerable to attacks, some of which are racially motivated, because they travel to and from part-time jobs on public transport late at night and often live in poor, high-crime, outer suburbs where housing is cheaper.

The researchers are critical of Indian religious groups, who they say have failed to come together to engage in joint advocacy against racism. They are also critical of Indian organisations generally, because of their failure to connect with other ethnic groups facing similar discrimination.

The Council of Australian Governments has agreed to introduce measures to improve the safety and well-being of international students, including an independent statutory complaints body for colleges and co-ordinated information on student safety and their workplace rights.

Melbourne’s business community is set to make international student safety a priority, with the Committee for Melbourne and the Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry promising to develop a voluntary program to provide cultural and safety information to shift workers new to Melbourne.

Advertisements

0 Responses to “Australian University report criticises ‘cash cow’ policy”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s





%d bloggers like this: