A key Australian think tank focused on international relations and defence is warning that Australia is too reliant on Chinese international students.
Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi has been calling for a royal commission into Chinese influence in Australia and is concerned that its influence, not only throughout our educational institutions, is far too great.
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The Daily Telegraph reports, last financial year there were 187,547 Chinese international students were enrolled to study in Australia, together bringing in more than $10 billion to the economy, almost a third of the total income of $32 billion.
Education is Australia’s third largest export after iron ore and coal, other industries heavily reliant on the Chinese purchasing power.
It’s a statistic that worries Peter Jennings, who was a senior adviser for strategic policy in the Howard government, and now executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
“Australian Universities are overly reliant on Chinese international students, causing an unhealthy dependence from catering to this market” Mr Jennings said.
“This over-reliance has left many universities highly vulnerable to either a natural reduction in Chinese students, or at the potential whim of the Chinese Government.”
While that sounds alarmist, Mr Jennings believes there’s sinister activity already occurring.
“There have been cases of Chinese students reporting back to the Chinese Embassy on fellow students that have not followed Beijing rhetoric.”
“It is a possible scenario that China could ban their students from attending Australian Universities over a diplomatic row.”
Mr Jennings believes Australian universities need to cap the number of students they accept from each country, in order to avoid being overly reliant on one economy.
“Australian universities need to stop being so greedy. The ongoing obsession of universities to continue to expand enrolments from international students needs to stop. If this results in a reduction of revenue, that is the price that needs to be paid.”
Senator Bernardi has told Kel Richards on Sydney radio station 2CH over-reliance on China is not in Australia's long-term interests.
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