Uni lobby calls critics for inconsistent criticism of China-ties  

The Innovative Research Universities lobby asks why MPs keen on minex and agriculture exports to China are down on universities who educate the country’s students

There is “a double-standard in some instances when it comes to views on the higher education sector,” the IRU argues in a brief addressing submissions to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security inquiry into security risks in universities.

“Many industries considered essential to our economy depend on China at a much higher rate than education – yet do not attract anything like the same level of rhetoric and concern from politicians and other interested commentators,” the IRU argues.

The lobby points to minex and agriculture exports to Chinese markets being worth three and four times the ten per cent of universities’ revenue “China provides.”

And it contrasts other exports with the overall benefits Australia enjoys from education. “Rather than simply shipping a product offshore, international education attracts students from over 150 countries to come here and contribute to Australian society, sharing their cultures, languages and histories with Australians. We gain far more than money as a result.”

Lest anybody miss the point the IRU adds, “politicians and other commentators who wish to criticise this fact would be better targeting other sectors with an even higher concentration on the Chinese market.”

The IRU similarly weighed into claims that foreign interference can shut down free speech on campus. It’s submission to the Intel committee inquiry includes; “All up, the number of cases and their detail do not suggest any major problem with freedom of speech or academic freedom due to foreign interference. … Parliamentarians and others who believe in free speech should support the open exchange of these views,” (CMM January 25).