Our Beloved, Utterly Delightful, Universities … Where Standards are “Lower”! By James Reed
After the cheating/plagiarism issue, we come to the obvious, that some universities are … well … let the papers say it shall we?
“Adelaide University is one of the most overexposed institutions to the Chinese student market in the English-speaking world, putting it at great financial risk from any downturn, a report warns. A Centre for Independent Studies report lists Adelaide among seven “elite” Australian universities with “extraordinary levels of exposure” to the Chinese “cash cow”. It says Chinese nationals account for 53.8 per cent of Adelaide’s international students and 15.8 per cent of all its enrolments. Income from Chinese students was 13 per cent of Adelaide’s total revenue in 2017 – $120 million out of $929 million. All international students were worth $204 million to the uni that year. From 2001-17, Adelaide grew its overseas student numbers by 322 per cent, compared to 49 per cent for domestic students. Its foreign student numbers are up 27 per cent this year alone, to more than 10,000. The report says the biggest financial risk factors are a Chinese recession, China introducing tighter currency controls on what its citizens can spend on foreign education, or adverse movements in exchange rates. It says small percentage declines in Chinese enrolments could cause “significant financial hardship” to universities, while large declines would be “catastrophic”. The bad news for taxpayers is that, like banks, universities are “too big to fail” and would need government bailouts, according to the report. Adelaide vice-chancellor Peter Rathjen has previously blamed government funding woes for universities being “addicted” to foreign student revenue. But the report rejects that argument, noting the biggest proportional rises in foreign student were in periods of funding increases. Adelaide and UniSA bosses this week spoke of the need to “diversify” foreign student intake to reduce risk, but the report says that is “doomed to fail” because India is too poor and other markets too small. The report says unis “routinely compromise” entry standards for foreign students via foundation courses, but Adelaide said its standards were the same regardless of the pathway. The uni said foreign students’ contribution to SA was more than economic.’’
Here are the key facts from the report by Salvatore Babones, The Chinese Student Boom and the Risk it Poses to Australian Universities (CIS, August, 2019):
“International students account for roughly 25% of all students on Australian university campuses. • No public university in the United States has as high a proportion of international students as the average public university in Australia. • Much of the growth in international student numbers at the seven focus universities has been directed into business education. The five for which data are available draw more than 40% of their entire business student bodies from overseas; for Melbourne and Sydney universities, the figure is 66.9%. American universities do not come close to these levels. • Approximately 10% of all students now attending an Australian university hail from China. • More than 40% of all onshore international students (and almost certainly the majority of international student fee revenue) come from China. • The University of Sydney led the country in 2017 in generating more than half a billion dollars in annual revenue from Chinese student course fees. Chinese enrolments are particularly unstable because of macroeconomic risk factors such as the slowing of China’s economy, the lack of full convertibility of the Chinese yuan, and fluctuations in the value of the yuan versus the Australian dollar. Of the nine potential risk factors identified in this report that could adversely affect Chinese student numbers, macroeconomic risks are by far the most serious (from a financial perspective) because they could lead to a sudden and severe fall in Chinese enrolments.
Australian universities routinely compromise admissions standards to accommodate international students. Preparatory programs for students with lower English language test scores function as a paid work-around for international students who do not meet admissions standards. By prominently marketing such alternative pathways, Australian universities are in effect taking actions that reduce their financial risks by increasing their standards risks. Australian universities are now seeking to diversify by expanding into the Indian market, but India is too poor to serve as a realistic alternative to China. The financial risks of over-reliance on China at the seven focus universities run into the hundreds of millions of dollars annually, and cannot be mitigated or diversified by greater recruitment in India. … Some of Australia’s public universities have taken enormous financial risks by borrowing in anticipation of future revenues, with system-wide borrowings rising by 67.7% between 2013 and 2017 at Sydney University, for example.156 The expansion of staff numbers needed to serve their rapidly increasing student numbers represents an even larger liability; in moral terms if not necessarily in accounting terms. If international student enrolments suffer a sudden fall, Australian universities would be hard pressed to meet their financial and moral obligations to creditors and employees. In the event of a crisis, Australian governments may not have a legal obligation to step in to resolve future revenue shortfalls, but they would come under strong political pressure to do so.”
Another article can be added to this, that the international students are here in the first place, rather than the United States, as our standards are lower. A nasty way of putting this is that Australian universities are simply not able to hold a candle to the upper ranking US universities, even UK ones (none are in the top 20):
“University of Sydney Associate Professor Salvatore Babones says Chinese students choose Australia over other countries for their education because “our standards are lower”. Speaking to Sky News, Mr Babones said 1.5 per cent of Australia’s current population is comprised of foreign students who migrate or are seeking better job opportunities when they go home. He said without international students the whole higher education system could collapse.” skynews.com.au/details/5d661ffd1de1c4001d018d64
Well, that was short and to the point. The entire Australian university system has been based upon funding from international students, and a change in the market, will finish the universities. I have said this over the years, but did any vice chancellor appoint me to a cushy job to solve the problem? No, they did not.
Who would have thought that from a casual stroll through these campuses? They all exist in a type of multicultural dream time.
I think it will be intersecting when the China/US/us war breaks out, and the universities of Australia have to face the music, then the dream comes to an end. There will be some very tense staff meetings in those times. Oh, to be a fly on the wall!
I reject the argument that universities are too big to fail, and believe that those who live by the market, and celebrate globalism and market forces, must be consistent and die by market forces, if that is what the Darwinian logic of the market dictates. That is the way of the sacred free market forces. Bring in the bulldozers!
The death of the highly dated universities will only advance knowledge and the wellbeing of society, since at present these institutions do little more than sell education, when the real point of learning is to advance development within the nation, and engage in nation building. This does not go on in an optimal fashion when the goal is to flog off education like any other commodity. An entirely new start is needed, beyond the universities.