Audio interview

China seeks influence in Australian universities

Higher education International students Relations with China Censorship Education Australia China

There are currently 170,000 mainland Chinese students attending Australian universities.

While that's a huge financial bonus for universities as they scramble for funding — the rising cohort from China also poses significant challenges — not just around language, but also around the content of courses.

In four prominent cases — academic staff at Australian universities have been targeted in Chinese social media campaigns after complaints from Chinese students that their teaching material was "offensive".

Some lecturers and universities apologised for the material — which in turn has prompted a debate about academic freedom.

Now the think tank 'China Matters' in a new report is calling on universities to adopt a new 'code of conduct' to resist what it sees as pressure from Chinese government officials to alter academic content.

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