What do you call a non-English speaker with a English-based university degree?
But Australian universities don’t care. Our tragic higher education sector is so starved of funds and so desperate for cash that they let in anyone paying cash up front to do their courses, even if they can’t understand ‘Engrish propry‘. University vice chancellors have been sadly reduced to effectively running black market operators like people smugglers, outlaw bikie gangs and backyard ICE labs – anything for cash.
It is all about cash up-front, but otherwise we can bend the rules!
Long gone are the heady 1980s when taxpayers’ happily funded Australian universities and TAFE to 90% of the sector’s revenue. Aussie taxpayers then felt happy to contribute their taxes to investing in the next generation’s higher education. But with mass immigration and its snowballing demand burden on our taxpayer wealth, Australia’s tertiary education sector, like health and social services has become too expensive for the Australian Government.
Public expenditure has also become more expensive as both Labor and Liberal alike have undemocratically gifted billions of Australian taxpayer wealth overseas – on foreign aid, on foreign wars and on foreign incoming illegals. And all that gifting from our so-called ‘rich nation’ has to come from somewhere.
So successive Labor and Liberal governments have undemocratically gouged tax wealth from Australia’s vital Higher Education Sector.
The thieving started back in 1989 when Bob Hawke introduced Dawkins’ student delayed contribution scheme (HECS) to allow his government to extract $1.2 billion from universities. Since then Keating, Howard, Rudd and Gillard have each gouged billions out of Australia’s our higher education wealth fund. Abbott and Pyne are currently following suit trying to extract another $3.2 billion over four years.
So what was originally 90% funding of higher education by taxpayers has been eroded to more like 60%. Our universities and TAFE are making up the funding shortfall by desperate means – not just cost cutting, but asset sales,by eroding teaching standards, by divesting into noneducational research to get research funding, by charging Australian students higher fees. But the real big cash cow for the sector is the 15% funding coming from full fee cash-up-front foreign students.
Yet, the Liberal/Labor government spin is not how Australia’s higher education has been starved of resources, but how education is now Australia’s third biggest export sector, generating $18.6 billion in 2009 and supporting approximately 125,000 jobs across Australia. Is that why many Australian corporates and government departments choose to employ qualified foreigners over less qualified Australians?
Currently, Abbott Liberals say they need to gouge another $5 billion from Australia’s higher education wealth fund to pay for Labor’s debt. At the same time Tony Abbott’s has elected a discretionary spend of $7 billion on supporting US crusades against ISIS in the Middle East and to buy $12 billion worth of extravagant American F-35 military jets. Neither massive indulgences were in Hockey’s 2014-15 budget.
With Australia’s higher education sector so starved of funds from 25 years of government cuts, cash is king, and so the upfront cash from foreign (international) students is their life blood. Competition for the foreign student is fierce, so many universities and institutes promote their courses as migration pathways into Australia.
Diploma, degree, masters, PhD? Pay cash up front, no problem. No Engrish, no probrem. Here’s your tutor list. Most Australian universities have lowered their entry English score to accommodate. Once you graduate here’s your migration agent list.
Most foreign students come from countries where English is not the first language. Their fees are routinely double those charged for local students, or even more; so the financial sacrifice made by the families of overseas students is generally higher. The cultural pressure is on to pass, whatever it takes.
In 2005, reports were coming in that thousands of foreign students were attempting to use fake qualifications to get into Australian universities. Foreign enrolment had nothing to do with getting a qualification; it was all about getting into Australia. It was because Australian government immigration policy provided a loophole that allows a degree obtained into Australia to count as extra visa points towards permanent migration. It is a form of back-door immigration. Then Dr Michael Paton, teaching quality fellow in Sydney University’s economics and business faculty, tried unsuccessfully to persuade the university to raise its entry score from 6.5 to 7, because foreign students were unable to paraphrase or summarise at lower levels. Some Australian campuses even accept foreign language submissions – in mandarin characters!
Foreign students, typically Asians, and even more typically Chinese, know how to cheat the system. Cheating is part of the Chinese culture. The Chinese educational philosophy is about results, so Chinese students are taught with the “answers” instead of professional skills. The Communist dictatorship is all about dictating one solution and so enforcing a culture of the “standard” answer. Once the standard answer is known, you pass. You then have the power to set up a profitable racket to enable others to pass by cheating. Intellectual property theft from The West extends right through corporate China, endorsed by the Communist Party of China and effected by Chinese military intelligence.
In October 2014 in China, 2,440 Chinese students were caught cheating during national licensing tests for pharmacists in Shaanxi province. Candidates were caught with earpieces through which answers to the test questions were transmitted. The organisers of the cheating scam sent fake candidates to take the test first and who then memorised the questions. They then broadcast the answers to candidates sitting the exam, who each paid $330.
“It is the worst scandal over the past few years,” Du Fangshuai, the chief of Shaanxi testing authority, said. “We’ve caught 2,440 candidates in total at seven test centres. At one centre there were 700 candidates cheating at the test.”
Even the USA is aware of the Chinese cheating culture, with CNN reporting in July 2014 that US admission officers believe one in ten applications to U.S. colleges by Chinese students may contain faked documents.
The presumption is that Chinese cheat, so Chinese students cheat. Because so many Chinese students want to live the good life in Australia, they cheat. They cheat at English tests and they cheat at exams. There is no shame.
By linking up with a residency pathway scam after graduation, the higher education sector foreign cash racket has become lucrative for all players – universities, dodgy institutes, foreign student cheats, migration agents. Plus the government gets to play with earmarked university billions how else it wants . It is a complete scam backdoor immigration package.
This is how it works. Australian Government Immigration policy provides for what’s called a Higher Education Sector visa (subclass 573). This visa allows foreigners to stay in Australia to study a full-time higher education course. Colloquially known also as a “student visa”, it offers foreigners a temporary visa to come to Australia for a specified period of time to study at an Australian educational institution.
Then by linking the choice of study course to the Australian Government’s Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189), means that once qualified, the foreign student can apply for permanent residency. This skilled visa pathway provides the points necessary to pass a points-test for independent skilled workers to live and work in Australia as permanent residents.
All they need is to be under age 50, pass an English test and have one of the qualifications from an Australian institute of sorts for skills listed under the Skilled Occupations List (SOL). Even the assessment is outsourced to private operators – “applicants who require a skills assessment as part of their visa application must contact a relevant assessing authority directly to obtain a skill assessment.”
For years, hairdressing and cooks were in demand, so thousands turned up from overseas. These days typical and popular skilled occupations on the list are:
- Construction Project Manager (code 133111)
- General Accountant (code 221111)
- Management Accountant (code 221112)
- Early Childhood (Pre-Primary School) Teacher (code 241111)
- Secondary School Teacher (code 241411)
- Nurse Practitioner (code 254411)
- ICT business Analyst (code 261111)
- Systems Analyst (code 261112)
- Analyst Programmer (code 261311)
- Developer Programmer (code 261312)
- Social Worker (code 272511)
- Telecommunications Technical Officer or Technologist (code 313214)
- Painting trades workers (code 332211)
- Roof plumber (code 334115)
- Technical Cable Jointer (code 342212)
- Electronic Equipment Trades Worker (code 342313)
- Chef (code 351311)
It is in these skilled fields that unscrupulous employers in Australia, many foreign-owned, are employing foreigners on contract rates lower than the Australian decent rate.
The first hurdle for the cheats is passing the English test. The standard is monopolised by IELTS (International English Language Testing System) which brands itself as the world’s proven English language test. Anyone achieving a score of a minimum 7.0 in four IELTS components gets extra points in the skilled points test to get permanent residence in Australia.
So word has got out. Forged English-language certificates have been traded for up to $10,000 a piece on a new black market. The student immigration black market has since boomed for professional exam sitters hired to take the tests. Many privately run “institutes” suddenly popped up for international students, often run by foreigners (Indians) to exploit foreign demand to immigrate to Australia through the backdoor student Visa 573.
By hiring professional exam sitters to help them pass the English test, foreign students take advantage of Australia’s slow immigration and appeals process to remain in Australia for up to 5 years. Nearly all the cheaters caught in recent months arrived in Australia on student visas many years ago and were trying to become permanent residents. Chinese woman Yang Guo who allegedly cheated in her exam in June 2009 but was allowed to stay in Australia until the tribunal decided her matter five years later, in August 2014. Nearly all the cheaters refused to admit their guilt and came up with creative reasons why their photos didn’t match. Ms Guo claimed her weight had ballooned after she sat the exam and she was wearing heavy make-up in the photo.
Details of a recently exposed racket were revealed in a series of decisions by Australia’s Migration Review Tribunal, but it is just the tip of the iceberg. Nearly all the cheaters hired the stand-ins in their home countries of India and Sri Lanka. Twenty four foreigners were caught hiring professional exam sitters to help get them Australian residency and 17 more have been found to have changed their scores to turn a fail into a pass. The migrants were nabbed when photos taken of the professional exam sitters who took the English test didn’t match the passport photos of the cheaters.
Reports in Indian newspapers say cheaters pay up to $2000 to pass the International English Language Testing System test by having “sitters” superimpose their photos on candidates’ passports. In 2009, Perth-based Indian student, Rajesh Kumar (31) was jailed for taking $32,000 from Indian students who cheated their English tests. He fraudulently altered the International English Testing System (IELTS) scores at Perth’s Curtin University between November 2009 and June 2010. Kumar kept $14,000 for himself while giving remainder to an intermediary Pritesh Shah. The latter paid some of this bribe to Kok Keith Low who would then falsify the score at Curtin University’s IELTS test centre. The racket mostly involved Indian students.
There has been an explosion in international students at Australian universities from 40,000 to about 220,000 (1996-2005) largely fuelled by the Liberal Howard Government’s immigration policy pathway to a permanent residency visa. In 2002, 6273 people who had arrived on student visas became permanent residents. In 2005 was 13,143. Under Rudd’s Big Australia policy, this trend continued, and still continues under the Abbott Liberal government.
In China, the cheating industry has boomed. Students contract “qiangshou” (hired guns) to sit exams for a fee.
Recent revelations by Fairfax Media of a large and flagrant university course cheating operation, all transacted in Chinese, reopens the door to a problem that is pervasive and entrenched. Financial pressure has compromised the standards, governance and ethics of Australia’s universities and tertiary colleges. The tainting of Australia’s tertiary education sector by financial pressure has become systemic and endemic.
This problem goes all the way to the university vice-chancellors. It has been an open secret for years that universities protect struggling foreign students to protect the income stream they represent. The tertiary-education sector has been operating double and triple standards for years. It has been milking foreign students. It has been protecting students with shoddy English skills. It has been graduating unqualified students.
It has tolerated a layer of dubious diploma factories, called colleges but operating at standards well below the universities, which exploit the international student market by graduating thousands with low-quality degrees.
Although Australia’s layer of elite universities have continued to do well in international rankings, the entire sector is sitting on numerous seams of academic compromise. Beyond the perennial human weakness for cutting corners, the pressure on students to survive is growing along with the cost of tertiary qualifications, now at historic highs and set to rise as the university sector is partially deregulated. The internet has made cheating easier than ever.
Online dodgy essay-writing service, MyMaster based in Sydney, guaranteed that the purchased work would be original and not detected by anti-plagiarism software. Hundreds of people have used the scheme since it began operating 18 months ago, either by purchasing assignments or by writing them. The owner of the Sydney-based company has claimed she employs about 100 essay writers. Her website has generated fees from several hundred students at 10 different universities in three states, mostly in New South Wales.
It was exposed in November 2014 and has since gone into hibernation.
The Abbott Liberal government is trying to pass laws to reduce federal funding of universities by a further 20%. This can only provide further incentive for our universities to lower standards, turn a blind eye to misconduct and keep the flood gates open for some international students who help keep universities in the black, but simply aren’t capable of studying in English.