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Briefing paper

Is there a problem with Chinese international students?

21 Sep 2017

Within the last year international students from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have become a focal point of the Australian media. News reports and commentary centre on a variety of grievances:

  • Academic freedom on Australian campuses is challenged by PRC international students who protest perceived slights to the PRC by lecturers or other students
  • PRC government officials are accused of meddling in Australian society by encouraging PRC students to oppose criticism of the PRC on campus
  • Universities risk losing vital revenue unless they take measures to address complaints by PRC students of isolation and being treated as ‘cash cows’
  • Domestic students and non-PRC international students are increasingly unhappy that PRC students with subpar English skills are permitted to enrol

Any one of the above complaints pertains to only some of the 170,000 PRC students in Australian universities. However, even a minority could taint the image of the entire PRC student cohort and give rise to serious tensions.

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