You’ve got to hand it to the professor of Asian studies at Auckland University**. She isn’t afraid to say what a lot of us have known for some time, it’s just refreshing to see it spoken about so frankly. What makes her statements so much more credible is that she is in the position to know more about these things than the rest of us.
From another excellent article by the migration affairs reporter in the New Zealand Herald, Lincon Tan, we learn that:
“International students are worth $2 billion annually to the economy. “If you want to put it crudely, they are seen only as cash cows,” said Professor Manying Ip, a professor of Asian studies at Auckland University.”
$2 Billion, who’d have thought it was that much. This is a major earner for the country where the GDP is $115 Billion.
So what other benefits, besides the obvious, do international students have for New Zealand? Not many it seems and local students are feeling uneasy about having so many ‘foreigners’ in their classes:
“New Zealanders’ attitudes towards international students today is very different to the days when we had the Colombo Plan, when they really wanted to share the benefits of New Zealand education with the developing world.”
International students support 45,000 jobs, pay more than $600 million in direct fees and the travel and tourism industry further benefits from their visiting friends and families.
Professor Ip says the value of international students are being equated by schools to getting a new IT room or a swimming pool, rather than any of the non-monetary benefits they bring.
Even local students feel uncomfortable in the presence of too many international students, another academic says.”
In Canterbury why do only the Pakeha (Caucasian) students take umbrage and leave when the international students turn up, where do they go we wonder?:
“Last year, head of Elam Art School Jonathan Mane-Wheoki, said: “I know from my time in Canterbury, you can have too many international students and the Pakeha students take flight.”
Professor Ip says although her colleague’s comments were regrettable, it was not an unknown kind of feeling.
“I try to convince my colleagues of the other benefits, like international connections and cultural awareness, to a university in an isolated country like New Zealand, but it has been a struggle.”
A new swimming pool is so much more tangible.
The article ends with a judicious application of PR salve from the university, no doubt mindful that somewhere in NZ the funding of a new IT suite could be in jeopardy:
“This year, Auckland University has 908 new international students, who will be paying tuition fees of more than $20 million.
Vice-chancellor Stuart McCutcheon says it is grossly inaccurate to say international students are being treated as cash cows.
Dr Christopher Tremewan, the university’s international pro vice-chancellor, said issues sometimes arose because professors failed to distinguish between international students and immigrant students, who did not have to take strict language tests to enter the university and often struggled with the English language.”
One has to ask why strict language tests aren’t required. Surely for the sakes of the students who are investing thousands of dollars in their education it would be advisable to ensure that they can at least understand what they are being taught? Is the international language of cold, hard cash is all that’s needed?
** “Dr Ip is a respected advocate for Chinese communities living in New Zealand. She was awarded a Suffrage Centennial Medal in 1993 and was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 1996. In 2004 she co-directed New Faces Old Fears, a television documentary exploring racism, multiculturalism and social cohesion in New Zealand. In late 2008, she was elected a Fellow of the New Zealand Academy of Humanities (FNZAH) in recognition of her distinction in research and the advancement of the humanities.” (source)
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