Overseas Students and Exploding Migration By James Reed
One only needs to take a stroll through the Australian universities during term time to see the migration link. One could be in China or India. But here is research that goes far beyond such crude empiricism from 2019, Bob Birrell, Overseas Students are Driving Australia’s Net Overseas Migration Tide.
“There is widespread awareness that overseas students are a large and growing presence in Australia. But few observers would know that by 2017-18 overseas students were the largest contributor to Australia’s very high level of Net Overseas Migration (NOM). According to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) estimates, overseas students comprised 104,987 of the overall level of NOM of 236,733 in 2017- 18. That’s 44 per cent of total NOM. Overseas students holding higher education visas were the dominant source of this contribution to NOM. (See definition of NOM on pp. 1-2.) Nor would many observers be aware that, over the six years from 2011-12 to 2017-18, overseas students were by far the largest growth point in Australia’s NOM. Their contribution increased from 25,700 in 2011-12 to 104,987 in 2017-18 . In the absence of the increasing contribution of overseas students, Australia’s NOM would have declined to around 150,000. Reductions in NOM over these years from New Zealanders and those on temporary work visas (among others – see Table 2) were swamped by the rising tide of overseas students. The student share of NOM in 2017-18 of 104,987 was far greater than that attributable to movements of those holding permanent residence visas – which was 68,850 in 2017-18 (see Table 1). Yet almost all the recent debate about the size of NOM and the Coalition government’s proposals to deal with the scale of NOM has focussed on the permanent resident component.
The Coalition plans to reduce the impact on Sydney and Melbourne by diverting some who obtain permanent visas to regional areas. The far more important size of the overseas student component has barely rated a mention in this debate, either by the Australian government or commentators on the migration issue. Nor are many commentators aware that overseas students are by far the largest contributors to population growth in inner Sydney and Melbourne (pp. 18-19). Part of the reason for this neglect is that most observers think that with the permanent entry migration program set at 190,000 over recent years, it must be the main source of the growth in Australia’s migration population. It is not. Near half of those receiving a permanent entry visa in 2016-17 were already residing in Australia when granted the visa. As a consequence they are not included in the count of NOM arrivals. This leads to the central point of this paper. Most people are concerned about the scale of migration. It is not a big issue whether the formal migration program is pushed up or down a bit. NOM is the best indicator of this outcome. On this metric, overseas students are far more important contributors to Australia’s population growth than the net inflow of permanent entry visa holders. …
For Australia’s universities, there has been an erosion of teaching standards and a resulting mounting threat to their reputation. This flows from the creation of overseas student enclaves in the fields these students focus on, mostly in business, administration and to a lesser extent information technology. vi Universities have had to adjust their curriculum and teaching standards to accommodate the limited academic preparation and often poor English skills of the students in question. For the wider Australian society, the flood of overseas students has had major impacts on the labour market and quality of life in Australia’s major metropolises, particularly Sydney and Melbourne. As to the labour market, migration advocates like to claim that the influx of migrants is augmenting Australia’s skilled workforce. This is not the case for the overseas student component. Any link between Australia‘s skill needs and the overseas student workforce is fortuitous. There is no skill filter governing the entry and stay of overseas students, except to a limited degree for those who obtain a temporary work visa (6,098 in 2017-18 according to Table 6) or a permanent entry skill visa. Most of those holding an overseas student visa do not possess professional or trade qualifications accepted in Australia. And, because they hold temporary visas, employers are usually only willing to recruit them on a casual or part-time basis. They enter low-skilled labour markets (notably in hospitality, retail and other service industries). The costs are borne by the many young domestic workers who do not possess post-school qualifications and who are also seeking work in these occupations. These domestic job seekers face ferocious competition from overseas students and other temporary migrants. This has eroded wages and conditions. Regarding quality of life issues, the main impact is the exacerbation of congestion issues, again, mainly in Sydney Melbourne. As noted, overseas students are the main source of population growth in inner city Sydney and Melbourne. They are locating in the eye of the storm of these congestion problems. In the absence of overseas students, the need to transform these locations for high-rise apartment blocks, to rebuild inner city infrastructure and incur the massive future public debt resulting, would be far less.”
Birrell concludes that there needs to be a reform of the university sector to reverse the liberal trends that have made an international student industry. He is not confident that this will happen any time soon, but the erosion of the education standards of the universities may necessitate it. My view is that much more radical reform is needed to the higher education sector, and the “close down the universities” position is that universities have long outlived their usefulness. They are expensive dinosaurs that foster all matter of problems, including the cultivation of Leftist politically correct ideologies. We would be much better without them, with nation building education occurring in various special centres or advanced schools. We finance entities that ultimately destroy us.