Saturday, 13 June 2009

In Praise of International Students

When are people going to realise that diversity makes things interesting, and is a positive complexity in so many ways. There was a special insert in The Advertiser this past week dealing with international students. If you're not in Australia, you may not realise what has been going on with regard to hate crimes against foreigners lately, mostly interstate but coming home to Adelaide this week as well. One car torched, another person bashed in Rundle mall, and fliers from the Australia First party being distributed around campus that request, "Overseas Students Go Home!" I was an international student, and I'm a foreigner, so I thought I would take a moment to personally address the 5 myths about international students mentioned in Denise Von Wald's (Chief Executive, Education Adelaide) article.

Myth: International students take the place of local students
There was only one English student on my course, which was an MA in International Tourism Management. In this case, Brits were typically more likely to finish a BA in Tourism and then hit the workforce. Had they been interested in the MA course though, there were plenty of places for them available.
Myth: International students pay massively inflated fees to ensure their acceptance into Australian institutions.
I had to pay at least twice as much as domestic students in the UK, and had to undergo the same entrance requirements.
Myth: International students work illegally while they're in Australia.
I spent most of my time in England with other international students, all of whom stuck to their 20 hour per week of allowed time in the workforce, and none of whom were paid under the table.
Myth: International students are all rich.
I took out loans to finance my MA in the UK, which on average, would take an individual 10 years to pay back, at a rate of about $200 a month.
Myth: International students study and leave, giving nothing in return to the SA community
Yes, I left the UK after having spent a year doing a degree, but if nothing else, I certainly stimulated the economy with my local grocery bills and other expenditures. I still have friends from my degree I keep in touch with, and at least one of them, who was from elsewhere in Europe, has stayed in the UK and has filled a niche role in the industry in which she studied.


A Free Man said...

From the lecturer's point of view (or this lecturer anyway) international students have more respect and work harder than a lot of the domestic students do. The other thing that these far right xenophobic nuts should remember is that 'educational services' are a major component of the still strong Australian economy. Australia's top export to India is 'educational services'.

I've been shocked by the racism down here and I grew up in the South of the U.S. Of course, I always found more overt racism up North.

Arizaphale said...

Yeah! What he said. My sister works as an International officer for a Uni in the UK and it is a well known fact that the fees of International Students fund many of the institute's courses, which could not otherwise run. I do suspect however that the two incidents reported in the Advertiser were a bit of a 'beat up' on the heels of the Harris Park protests.