Report shows government favouring overseas students over local ones

11 December 2022

Media Releases 2022


Sustainable Population Australia (SPA) has called for an overhaul of university training in Australia in light of the latest report from The Australian Population Research Institute (TAPRI).

The report The Skills Crisis, University Culpability and the Overseas Student Industry by Bob Birrell and Ernest Healy, reveals deep inequities in the number of training places offered to Australian students compared to overseas students.

The report finds that the share of the universities’ training effort allocated to overseas students had reached 40 per cent of all graduations (domestic and overseas) by 2020, up from 35 per cent in 2012.

SPA National President, Ms Jenny Goldie, says that the report finds universities provide more places for overseas students than they do for domestic students in the key fields of IT and engineering. Nursing is another key field where overseas student numbers are rapidly increasing, meaning there are limited places for more Australian students.

“This entirely misplaced concept of ‘fairness’ is reducing opportunities for domestic students in these key fields,” says Ms Goldie.

“Clearly the federal government is more concerned about revenue than providing the skills that Australia needs. Total revenue from overseas students was $9.2bn, or 27 per cent of all university revenue across Australia. In some cases it was higher, for instance, more than a third of RMIT’s revenue came from foreign students.

“Since the Jobs and Skills Summit, it is clear that federal government policy has changed. From now on, overseas students trained here will become an integral part of Australia’s skilled labour force training strategy – at the expense of training our own country’s young people.

“This is nothing less than a policy for relentless population growth, since all students will be encouraged to apply for permanent residency.

“Is our higher education system no more than a cash-for-visas machine? What happened to the training of Australians?

“This is totally at odds with the original Colombo Plan conceived in 1950 where students from poorer countries were funded to come to wealthier countries like Australia but went back to their own countries with vital skills.

“Now we grab their skills and use them for our own benefit,” says Ms Goldie. “The countries that send them miss out.”

Ms Goldie notes that overseas students will inevitably contribute a big share of the government’s reckless and undemocratic 235,000 target for net migration.  And equally inevitable, that student visa fraud will continue to be a chronic yet largely self-imposed problem for government.

She says the proportion of foreign students in universities should be at least halved and that all should have to return to their countries of origin for a period – maybe two years – before applying for employment in Australia.


education , media releases 2022 , Migration , population , student , TAPRI , training
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