Sample Paper on Exploitation of Foreign Students Putting Australians at Risk


Since the late 1980s, the global higher education market has been expanding vigorously, with many universities becoming highly dependent on cross-border students for revenues. Despite this growth, the social control of international education remains in a state of instability and existing formal social protection instruments fall significantly short of providing adequate coverage. This lack of organization results in the failure of social and economic institutions to recognize international students as individuals with a variety of social and economic rights rather than consumers.

Several factors influence student choice of destination, including living costs, travel distance, security, foreign language, education quality, graduate opportunities and relocation potential. Universities in the USA and UK enjoy the most prestige and provide favorable career opportunities. Australia is placed third, after these two countries (Mazzarol et al., 2001). According to Australian government data, between 1990 and 2003 the number of cross-border students enrolled in higher education institutions increased from 24,998 to 210,397, which constituted more than 10% of the international market (Deumert et al., 2005, p.27). International student enrolments in Australia account for 18% of all tertiary enrolments. This is the highest percentage amongst any of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations (OECD, 2008, p.348). Education is Australia’s third leading export industry now, generating $14.2 billion in export revenue for Australia in 2007-8 (McKenzie, 2008, p.1).

This paper seeks to answer the question on whether the exploitation of foreign students is putting Australians reputations at risk. There are consequences of exploiting foreign students that cannot be overlooked if the government of Australia intends to dominate the education market.


The safety and welfare of these international students has been the focal point of increasing concentration lately. There have been allegations of exploitation by employers, migration agents and poor quality education and in some cases, fraudulent private education providers (Trounson, 2009). Most international students have been targeted in racial violence in South Australia; they have been murdered, molested and subjected to torture in unsafe accommodation (Smith, 2009, p.13).

In recent years, a number of highly exposed deaths and tragedies, and an increase in incidents of violence concerning international students, have triggered increasing alarm about the safety and security of international students in Australia (Smith, 2009). Such incidents include ethnic cruelty against international students in South Australia in 2006, organized racial targeting in Newcastle in 2004, a large series of violent attacks in Melbourne in 2007, the exposure of many deaths of international students in Sydney in 2008, and the drowning and house fire deaths of students in Victoria in 2008 (Smith, 2009, p.14).

These students are also exposed to environmental safety risk factors to a larger scope than native students (Novera, 2004, p.2). This is evidenced by social-economic conditions such as, inadequate affordable accommodation, with existing housing often situated in areas considered less secure, working in informal and insecure employment and often at night, lack of private transport means and absence of family and social networks (Babacan et al., 2010, p. 3)

Language barrier has also been a challenge to most international students in Australia. In a survey that was conducted, 19 of the 28 students from China reported serious language challenges. The response rates among students from other East Asian and South East Asian nations including Hong Kong, Japan and Thailand was higher according to (Deumert, 2005).

In 2009, there were 20 violent crimes against students of Indian background, some of whom were Australian citizens (Marginson et al., 2010, p.17). There are also at least five violent incidents in the past two years against Chinese and Asian students. There were a numbers of victims who died as a result of these crimes against the students.

Financial exploitation is also quite evident in Australia. The nation can ill afford to have a reputation as a place where students are economically exploited since many businesses in Australia are making them work for free. The minimum wage rate legislation is not always effective for international students. Although some students are aware of this legislation, they choose to accept jobs that offer below minimum wages due to difficulties of securing a job (Ong, 2010, p.198).

On the other hand, Australian government has put in place policies to ensure that the citizens are safe from any form of terrorism activities. There are legislations that ensure strict enrolment of student in order to curb criminal activities that originate from the foreign student (Marginson et al., 2010, p.ix). Some international students do not respect the judicial standards in the country and this leads strict action taken by the government to curb the bad behavior.

However, a survey ranked Australia as the safest country to study in (Babacan et al., 2010, p.2). The survey which interviewed 6000 students of whom 1,100 were Indian and the results revealed that Australia is believed to be the safest destination for international students amongst English countries.

The huge majority (82%) of students surveyed, both international and domestic, felt Melbourne overall was a safe place to live; felt safe at their workplace (93%) and, felt safe when attending college or university (92%) (Babacan et al., 2010, p.2). The research by Babacan et al (2010) showed that the exploitation was little and most students were comfortable.

High demand from international students for Australian tertiary, particularly occupational and training qualifications is only partially met by the public institutions. Students who qualify in particular professions benefit from easier admission to permanent residency in Australia which is an advantage (Ong, 2010, p.16). This argues against students’ exploitation in Australia.

International students are often financially disadvantaged in their host country, which has the potential to complex the difficulties they face (McNicoll, Luff, & Campus n.d, p.19). To make their lives better, they are attracted by the benefits from access to educational opportunities not available in their own countries but are available in Australia.

Considering the challenges faced by international students in Australia, the education providers must recognize the threat that the conditions outlined above represent to the educational and personal well-being of students, regardless of their motivation and mitigated by appropriate support and societal structures. The government must set legislations concerning students’ welfare and make sure they are exercised.


The cases demonstrate that there are clearly problems for student welfare and safety in Australia. The dangers are mostly high in the context of employment and accommodation.  International students are disadvantaged by their limited financial means, and are accommodated in poor suburbs, where the public transport on which they must rely is irregular and can be risky

New governance approaches are required to address rising issues of student safety, and the status of national education systems if education exports are to keep on flourishing. Quality can, in part, be achieved through the vigilance and critical approach of the media. The challenge faced in managing an education export market is to balance the complex global policy environment of people movement, labor markets and trade in education. According to the cases in the discussion about education in Australia, a practical approach is crucial and this may be a thorough assessment of the regulatory environment, with a significant tightening of processes: strict regulation of publicity, registration, financial responsibility, academic requirements, and the contract between student and institution is compulsory if private providers are to improve the opportunities available to students and sustain the reputation of the national education sector, any associate university and the export market for education. These combined with the positive characteristics will improve Australian education system. Therefore, it is clear that Exploitation of foreign students in Australia is putting the reputations the country at great risk.







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