Internationalising education: Exploitation or Opportunity?

Australia is a diverse nation which openly accepts multiculturalism. Although our understanding of different cultures and their perceptions of Australia is lacking resulting in a sense of alienation between our nation and other cultures.

When entering a new environment it can be a daunting experience, especially when the individual is not accustom to the norms, language or ideals of the place. Kell and Vogl (2007, p. 5) states “students found it hard as they felt that Australian students knew little about their culture and countries of origin”. With little knowledge comes uncertainty and often Australian’s who haven’t experienced other cultures avoid interaction.

Several international students are provided with an array of opportunities in Australia, although exploitation and false advertising within certain countries such as India and its poorer areas, as seen in the picture below, suggests that students will be given many opportunities to thrive including university education, but this is often not the case. The Documentary ‘Convenient Education’ recognises the hardship faced by several Indian students when they relocate to Australia. Often their families have sold properties or used majority of their savings to send them to Australia or other financially dependable countries. However their treatment is often poor, provided with little shelter and financially stable jobs, they are often forced to learn simple trades in order to accommodate the decreasing industries (Elliot-Jones 2012).


It is evident there needs to be a shift in how we see and treat international students. Regulations need to be put in place to ensure equality amongst all nationalities and each individual is provided with the opportunities they were guaranteed. Marginson (2004, p. 219) states that Indian students “wanting to belong heightened the importance of peer groups and collective consumption, but they also desired`independence'”.
International students have become a profit base for many countries, Marginson (2012, p. 1) states “80 per cent of our students are from Asia, which is becoming the gravitational centre of the world. This large scale encounter with people from Asia has much to offer”.

We are starting to see international students as an integrated part of our society, however in 2009 a series of attacks in Melbourne and Sydney on Indian students sparked debate towards how tolerant our country is, leading to the show ‘Dumb, Drunk and Racist’ which aired in 2010 on the ABC post these attacks. Marginson (2012, p. 1) argues “Much research suggests the pathway to improvement lies in lifting the interactions between international students and local persons, especially students”.

Conclusively there needs to be more awareness within Australian communities, and education towards international students, whether it’s through peer to peer groups or a much wider initiative, support needs to be a priority for both international and local students to ensure both parties are able to communicate with one another, and to minimize racial discrimination through violence and exploitation of vulnerable nationalities.


Butcher, M 2004, ‘Universal Processes of Cultural Change: Reflecting on the Identity Strategies of Indian and Australian Youth’. Journal of Intercultural Studies, Vol. 25, No. 3. pp. 215- 231.

Elliot-Jones, D 2012, Convenient Education, image, Walking Fish Productions, viewed 17 August 2014, <;.

Elliot-Jones, D 2012, Convenient Education, online video, 13 November, SBS, viewed 17 August 2014, <;.

Kell, P & Vogl, G 2007, ‘International students: Negotiating life and study in Australia through Australian Englishes’, Everyday Multiculturalism Conference, pp. 1-10.

Marginson, S 2012, ‘Morphing a profit-making business into an intercultural experience’, International education as self-formation, pp. 1-11.



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