Australians split over numbers of overseas students

A new poll reveals that almost half of Australians would like to see fewer overseas students being allowed to study in the country.

The Australian National University’s ANUpoll revealed that 52.8 per cent of respondents said the mix between foreign and domestic students was about right, but 46.1 per cent favoured a lower level of overseas students. Only 1.1 per cent wanted a greater proportion of students from overseas.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there were big differences in attitudes between those who had attended university or were there now, and those who had not.

The survey found that 51.3 per cent of those who had never been to university supported reducing the proportion of overseas students. This fell to 43.6 per cent among those who had previously been to university, and to 25.6 per cent among current students.

More than 690,000 international students were in Australia on student visas last year, an increase of 11 per cent on the year before. The two largest source countries were China and India.

Australia has the highest per capita number of overseas students in the world, and the third-highest overall after the United States and Britain.

International students make up 48 per cent of master’s students, 32 per cent of doctoral candidates and 14 per cent of bachelor degree students at Australian universities.

However, critics are concerned about the pressures placed on the institutions and on standards, and the government has in recent months taken steps to tighten the foreign student visa process.

Other findings from the survey showed that Australians have a great deal more confidence in Australia’s universities and schools and those who staff them than they have in major companies, the public service, the federal government or the press.

Some 78.8 per cent had confidence in universities while the figure for schools was 73.6 per cent. Nearly eight in ten had confidence in university lecturers and school teachers; just over eight in ten expressed confidence in university researchers.

Meanwhile, the numbers for other institutions were: the public service 46 percent; major Australian companies 43.6 percent; banks and financial institutions 28 percent; the federal government in Canberra 27 percent.

Article published 25th October 2019