Monday, May 08, 2006

The Overseas Student

When you visit our fair city central area of Melbourne, you may be somwhat overwhelmed by the numbers of Asians, especially from the mid to the north of the CBD. Too many Asians in Australia, some would cry. But no, not this lot anyway. They are mostly overseas students studying here in Melbourne.

They pay lots of dollars for the priviledge and if you keep up with the news a bit, both you and I and they know they are being ripped off. They get a second rate education by educators who generally could not give a stuff about them, by educational institutions who are just in it for the money, by businesses who welcome their custom, by developers who build sweaty shoe boxes for them to live in, by governments who like the foreign money coming in.

It has taken some time, by they are finally starting to rebel a bit, and of course the bolshie Indian students were the first. Indians do know how to protest much better than than the Asian students. They have a long history of it. (If you are overseas, in Oz, we only call people Asian if they are from the Asian continent and east of India)

Imagine if you will, at seventeen, leaving your family based society and being on your own in a foreign country. Almost everything is alien to you. Your family back home is just a phone call away, but they don't understand. You do have some of your own people around and they are your saviour. It is terribly hard to cope with these physically large and aggressive Australians. 'Why is not the teacher not teaching me? I have to find it all out myself.' 'Why do Australians question authority? The teacher knows best. Why do they question him/her?'

Slowly they will come to understand how Australia works, so far as education goes. Will they understand the bigger Australia? Some will I guess, but most not. Some will qualify, perhaps have rels here, and be able to stay. Good for you, you are most welcome. Just don't think you are going to bring your ageing grandparents who will never attemtp to learn English.

But the bulk will go home without a quintessential knowledge of Australia. They will know a little of Australia, but not the essence of it, even perhaps after four years. I really don't know that will have a favourable impression of Australia. They will return home, knowing they have been milked as a cash cow, but that was a price to pay for the certificate in their hand.

Australia has the ability to excell in a learning experience for overseas students. We can do better than the UK and the US, and we really ought to do better. We will reap rewards in the future.

Like sometimes we feel overwhelmed by immigrants because the number from one area is too high, maybe it is the same for students. In the sixties and seventies, many were educated here, but not in the numbers that they are now. Perhaps less is more?


  1. I found that studying at Deakin was an interesting experience because a large portion of the population was made up of overseas, full fee paying students. There were several programs available to teach them about Australian culture, English and study skills. It was great because many applied what they learned.

    At ACU, 80% of the student body is Australian so programs for teaching overseas students about Australian culture let alone English are non-existent.

    It is sad to think that overseas students can be treated as cashcows for lining the pockets of the executives that run these institutions. Particularly since the larger institutions are giving more places to overseas students.

  2. Well, I am an overseas student (from Canada) studying at Deakin, doing my Master's in Professional Communication. I have witnessed first-hand how some of these Asian overseas students are treated.

    I would say my classes are, on average, 20% Asian, 79% Aussie and then me. Many of the students from Asia in my class can hardly speak English. I know this because they see me as another foreign student and tend to hang around me, and we talk, etc. These classes are also small and demand a lot of in-class participation.

    I would have to say they are largely ignored by the profs. It is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy though. On the first few days of classes the profs would call on them, they would clam up, fumble around with the language - and now the prof simply doesn't call on them anymore.

    Considering the fact that all my courses are writing courses I have no. idea. how these poor kids pass. (There are rumours that they send assignments back home and get others to write them), and apparently profs are told to go easy on non-english speaking foreign kids.

    Anyway, all of that to say that yeah, overseas students are treated as cash cows. The Asian students in particular are getting ripped off because it is clear - at Deakin anyway - no one really gives a crap about how well they are really doing.

  3. Most Australians are aware that India is part of Asia and that "Asian" includes Indian along with other nationalilties of that continent! No need to denigrate the intelligence of Australians!

  4. Not denigrating Aussies. Aussies are quite world wide knowledgable. It is an English thing. They call Indians, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis Asian. In Australia, we don't refer to such places as Asian. They are techinically correct, but not how we refer to them.