Monday, July 28, 2008

Welcome to nation of university ghettos

A Widening gulf between local and foreign university students is creating segregated classes, cultural cliques and religious ghettos, raising fears of a backlash on campuses.

International education is a $12.5 billion industry, and foreign students' fees account for an average 15 per cent of universities' overall funding, but a higher education experts warns of "informal but real segregation".

Professor Simon Marginson, from the Centre for Higher Education at the University of Melbourne, said local students tended to work off campus and were not active in student life, and international students spent most of their time on campus, generally in the library.

While the atmosphere on campuses generally supported foreign students, Professor Marginson said: "So you've got this odd situation with the local students half-disengaged in a way I've never really seen before. The international student industry runs off the back of a reasonably strong local system which presumes a healthy relationship with the local students … all of that has become the marketing pitch. That's the flashpoint that worries me more than any other - that it could spring back into resentment."

Almost two-thirds of international students are from Asia, and many have no contact with local students. Eric Pang, president of the National Liaision Committee for International Students in Australia, said foreign students were not given a strong welfare system and had to rely on peers for support, yet were accused of failing to integrate. Many had told the committee: "There's not much international students can learn from Australia in terms of culture, or in terms of English. After all, the standard of English of Australian students is not high anyway."

Read the full article at: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2008/07/22/1216492448152.html?feed=fairfaxdigitalxml

5 comments:

  1. Professor Simon Marginson's response to The Age

    Yesterday's Age article on international students ('Experts warn of campus ghettos', front page 23/7) is a disaster. It is Herald-Sun style sensationalism and has called me to review my long stance of open cooperation with the Fairfax newspapers.

    I briefed what I thought was an intelligent journalist, Sushi Das, for about an hour, two weeks ago, on many aspects of international education. In the course of this I said there is no visible tension between international and domestic students, none whatsoever, but the two populations are largely separated and there is potential for backlash and resentment further down the track if we don't draw local students (who are partly disengaged from university) more effectively into a process of internationalization...

    The headings describe 'ghettos' and 'resentment' is if these are established facts. The article begins by talking about a 'widening gulf' between international and local students. The third paragraph introduces 'experts' as support for the main points in the opening. Later, the body of the article reports me (the sole expert cited) as saying that there is no problem but there is a potential problem...

    In this area there are real issues and challenges for universities, for government and for international student organizations to address. But they are lost in The Age's twisting of the issues into a representation of apartheid and especially the claim that the situation is deteriorating, when although there is no actual evidence in the article to support this. Instead of allowing us to unpick the complex dynamics of the partial separation between local and international students, so we can make a constructive forward move, what The Age has done has forced us into denial of its gross simplification and distortion, and forced us into what should be an unnecessary defence of the international education industry, which is well aware of the issues. In short The Age has twisted the issue and exploited it, centring the discussion on its own misrepresentation not the reality. This might sell newspapers. But it is not in the public interest or in the interest of the students.

    I am happy to talk to anyone in the media who wants to appraise these issues in an honest way. I will not confirm yesterday's article in The Age".

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sushi Das (The Age, 23/7/2008) paints an unnecessarily negative and inaccurate picture in discussing the circumstances surrounding international students studying in Australia. Eric Pang's words were particularly inappropriate. It is natural that people moving from one culture to another will experience problems, cultural shock and homesickness. It is also natural that they will turn to others from their home culture for social life and help with problems. This does not mean that a strong welfare system is not provided for them.

    The ISANA International Education Association has members who provide this support to international students across all educational sectors. Our members are hardworking and dedicated people who mostly manage to provide world-class orientation programs and a high level of support for these students throughout their time on Australia. ISANA provides the professional development and support to our members to enable them to give this support to these students.

    Yes, more could always be done in this area, particularly if educational institutions allocated more funding to this area but the very many international students who complete their education successfully and enjoy their stay in Australia points to the great level of support already being provided.

    Felicity Fallon,
    President, ISANA International Education Association

    ReplyDelete
  3. Professor Simon MarginsonJuly 29, 2008 at 2:51 PM

    "Yesterday's Age article on international students ('Experts warn of campus ghettos', front page 23/7) is a disaster. It is Herald-Sun style sensationalism and has called me to review my long stance of open cooperation with the Fairfax newspapers.

    I briefed what I thought was an intelligent journalist, Sushi Das, for about an hour, two weeks ago, on many aspects of international education. In the course of this I said there is no visible tension between international and domestic students, none whatsoever, but the two populations are largely separated and there is potential for backlash and resentment further down the track if we don't draw local students (who are partly disengaged from university) more effectively into a process of internationalization...

    The headings describe 'ghettos' and 'resentment' is if these are established facts. The article begins by talking about a 'widening gulf' between international and local students. The third paragraph introduces 'experts' as support for the main points in the opening. Later, the body of the article reports me (the sole expert cited) as saying that there is no problem but there is a potential problem...

    In this area there are real issues and challenges for universities, for government and for international student organizations to address. But they are lost in The Age's twisting of the issues into a representation of apartheid and especially the claim that the situation is deteriorating, when although there is no actual evidence in the article to support this. Instead of allowing us to unpick the complex dynamics of the partial separation between local and international students, so we can make a constructive forward move, what The Age has done has forced us into denial of its gross simplification and distortion, and forced us into what should be an unnecessary defence of the international education industry, which is well aware of the issues. In short The Age has twisted the issue and exploited it, centring the discussion on its own misrepresentation not the reality. This might sell newspapers. But it is not in the public interest or in the interest of the students.

    I am happy to talk to anyone in the media who wants to appraise these issues in an honest way. I will not confirm yesterday's article in The Age".
    By Professor Simon Marginson 24 July2008

    ReplyDelete
  4. From Felicity Fallon, President ISANA: international Education Association
    Sushi Das (The Age, 23/7/2008) paints an unnecessarily negative and inaccurate picture in discussing the circumstances surrounding international students studying in Australia. Eric Pang's words were particularly inappropriate. It is natural that people moving from one culture to another will experience problems, cultural shock and homesickness. It is also natural that they will turn to others from their home culture for social life and help with problems. This does not mean that a strong welfare system is not provided for them.

    The ISANA International Education Association has members who provide this support to international students across all educational sectors. Our members are hardworking and dedicated people who mostly manage to provide world-class orientation programs and a high level of support for these students throughout their time on Australia. ISANA provides the professional development and support to our members to enable them to give this support to these students.

    Yes, more could always be done in this area, particularly if educational institutions allocated more funding to this area but the very many international students who complete their education successfully and enjoy their stay in Australia points to the great level of support already being provided.

    Felicity Fallon,
    President, ISANA International Education Association

    ReplyDelete
  5. In fact Sushi Das is touching on issues which many in the industry are uncomfortable with, in additon to international candidates....CRICOS, and the separate fee structures etc. for international, is developing a form of apartheid within institutions between international and domestic students.

    Further still, there is a glaring lack of systematic quality control and market reserach, i.e. gaining and evaluating feedback from clients in Australia's international education industry.

    I would ask, how can Simon Marginson's be so certain there are no issues?

    Says something about an industry that appears to be paranoid about any scrutiny from outside.....

    ReplyDelete