Experts issue warning over Nepalis student surge in Australia « Khabarhub
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Experts issue warning over Nepalis student surge in Australia

22 December 2019  

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BRISBANE: Leading higher education experts have urged the federal government to urgently “red flag” the surging number of Nepalis international students coming to Australia, arguing poor families are being exploited by recruiters and employers.

Andrew Norton, professor of higher education policy at the Australian National University, said the Nepalis influx should be “red-flagged” by the Department of Home Affairs.

“Nepal is a country with a not-very-large population and it is very poor,” he said. “You have these basic questions of how so many people can afford to come to Australia and afford education here.”

Professor Norton said Nepalis international students had “an extremely high number” of secondary applicants on their visas, “suggesting to me that maybe they’re bringing in their spouses to work”.

“Once they’re here they’ll get caught up in the very well-known labor market issues around people on temporary visas where they’ll be offered below minimum wage work which they’ll probably accept because they’re desperate or they want to work more hours than they are entitled to under the student visa.”

Salvatore Babones, associate professor at the University of Sydney, was even more critical, accusing universities and the government of presiding over the “abuse” of poor families.

“The picture is so damning. I think the universities and the government should exercise more of a duty of care to poor people in a developing country rather than just take their money because it’s easy money. For Nepal, it’s just abusive.”, Balbones said.

The trend has alarmed higher education experts, who warn it is unlikely the students can genuinely afford to study in Australia and are likely involved in exploitative work to pay for their tuition.

World Bank figures show Nepal’s gross domestic product per capita is about $US1000 – less than a 50th of Australia’s and half of India’s. “And yet it has this enormous contingent of students in Australia,” said Associate Professor Babones.

Since 2017, Nepal has been Australia’s third-largest source of overseas students, well behind China and India but significantly ahead of larger, closer and more developed countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

In the 12 months to October, there were 65,746 enrolments from Nepal in tertiary courses, according to the federal government, more than triple the 21,000 who enrolled in 2016. In 2018-19 the Nepalis international student market was worth $2.6 billion to Australia, up from $1.6 billion the previous year.

At the same time, the number of education agents – or recruiters – operating in Nepal has leaped from a few hundred to more than 3000, according to a federal education department spokesman.

Of those who enrolled at Australian educational institutions this year, 42,500 were in NSW and 11,300 in Victoria.

(with inputs from Sydney Morning Herald)

Publish Date : 22 December 2019 16:17 PM

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