Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Remember the international goodwill education engenders

By K.C. Boey - posted Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Listening to policy specialist Michael Wesley, university administrator Margaret Gardner and others caught up in the debate over the international education industry in Australia, the frenzy whipped up by students from India about racism against them might not be all that it's cracked up to be.

While Gardner, vice-chancellor of RMIT University in Melbourne, is in broad agreement with Wesley on the root causes of the problems putting at risk Australia's third-largest export earner, she and others point as a factor to a regulatory shift going back eight years that elevates the impetus for skilled migrants to come to Australia.

Which changes the complexion of the debate about an industry that earns Australia more than A$15 billion a year, third in value only after coal and iron ore.


Wesley, in a study of international education, raises the spectre of the increasing "marketisation" of higher education, pressing for an image makeover with implications that go beyond education.

The spotlight Gardner throws on immigration flies in the face of positive views of Australia's past in its contribution to developing nations - Malaysia foremost among them - that Wesley acknowledges of the Colombo Plan of the 1950s.

Gardner's assertion takes the debate to questions of the morality of brain drain from source countries, and the distinction that needs to be made in defining "student".

In many ways, the students Wesley refers to are unrecognisable from those whom Gardner talks about.

Which would explain the bemusement of any Malaysian caught up in the debate sparked by the bad press Australia's international education industry has attracted over the past three months, particularly in India.

This came after a spate of violence in Melbourne and Sydney against students from India, leading to allegations of racism.


Racism? Malaysians - from Malaysian Students Department Australia director Dr Mohamed Nasir Abu Hassan to student leaders in Melbourne - have no such concerns.

Still, the implications for Australia's international reputation - beyond education - alarmed Wesley, director of the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney.

He wrote a policy brief setting out the problem and the costs to Australia, recommending measures to restore the reputation of an institution founded on the Colombo Plan.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. All

First published in the New Sunday Times on August 30, 2009.

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

K.C. Boey is a former editor of Malaysian Business and The Malay Mail. He now writes for The Malaysian Insider out of Melbourne.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by K.C. Boey

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Article Tools
Comment Comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy