Australians ambivalent about uni-China connections

A new survey is very bad news for the push to bring international students from China back post COVID-19

A UTS survey finds 48 per cent of the sample agree that “Australian university ties with China compromise Australian freedom of speech” and 81 per cent think unis are “too financially reliant” on students from China.

The findings are in a new report by Elena Collinson and Paul Burke, from the Australia-China Relations Institute.

In bad news for university lobbies, the survey reports Australians evenly divide (40 per cent agree 41 per cent don’t) that international students from China “are potentially reducing the quality of education at Australian universities.”

And in disastrous news, 42 per cent think students from China, “mean there are less places for domestic students to study in their choice of Australian university.”

Not that this is necessarily based in hostility to students themselves, 58 per cent agree they “help strengthen the people-to-people links between the two countries.”

And 76 per cent recognise the economic benefits that flow from students from China on campus.

It’s just that international education is not a priority. Half of survey participants were either opposed (28 per cent) or indifferent (26 per cent) to students returning being a post-COVID 19 priority.

Responders are also ambivalent over research connections with China, two thirds think they are “beneficial” but just 48 per cent think they make Australia “more competitive internationally.”

The survey reports that responses to some questions correlate with age and allegiance, older and LNP voters are likely to hold negative views.

Want to know why coalition MPs attack universities over research connections with China and the federal government appears in no rush to allow international students to return?