#foreignstudents

Education could change forever

College

This piece isn’t so much about Trump’s plan to do the above, but a precursor to where education is probably likely to head. Going forward, skills will be more prized than some kid with a liberal arts degree in Marxist philosophy.

The education sector needs to take a long hard look at the changes heading for it.

The declining standards in education are one thing. They are morphing into ever more political campuses, encouraged by the universities themselves. Here are 10 examples.

  1. A Cambridge professor tweeted “whites they don’t matter.
  2. A Stanford law professor testified during the impeachment hearings that she crosses the road when she sees a Trump building.
  3. The University of Texas ran a MasculinUT program built around “restrictive masculinity” and tries to encourage men to drop traditional gender roles.
  4. Yale University’s Chaplain’s Office believes a $70,000pa education requires a bouncy castle and/or cookies & colouring to reduce anxiety for students.
  5. University of Manchester’s student union voted to say “applause” is not inclusive and can distress people.
  6. Cambridge University union students deemed Remembrance Day as something that glorifies war, not about respecting the dead and those who served.
  7. UTS thinks that lowering the ATAR requirements to get more girls into STEM fields makes sense.  
  8. Academia signed this open letter supporting the Extinction Rebellion which highlighted how poor the vetting processes were in trying to appear woke. The stats spoke volumes.
  9. Prof Peter Ridd won his court case for unfair dismissal against James Cook University for his challenging of the orthodoxy about the deterioration of the Great Barrier Reef.
  10. Sydney University students were being marked down by certain lecturers if students used language such as ‘mankind’, ‘workmanship’ or similar words in assignment work.

We could go on.

These much-prized institutions are hardly making a strong case for the fees they charge. We whole-heartedly agree with Bernie Sanders that education should be free. In our view if and only if this is the standard of the faculty staff. It is increasingly looking worthless against the exorbitant fees charged.

Australia makes a great case in point. It bet the farm on the surging ranks of foreign (especially Chinese) students paying exorbitant fees to get degrees from our tertiary institutions. So many thought the gravy train would never end that they expanded facilities and never made contingency plans for an exogenous shock – like coronavirus.

Downsizing of universities is inevitable. Good professors will be bid away to schools that can afford them. Many surplus-to-requirements faculty staff will be axed. With that morale will sink and internal finger-pointing will exacerbate the problem and standards will slip further.

The future of education may end up ditching $100,000s in student loans to an education business model which allows students to pick the academics they want in the fields they are interested in. We recall the MBA course taken 17 years ago. We were forced to pay $1,000s of dollars to take a course in basic economics, a subject we took 4 years to complete with distinction to attain a B Ec.

We are reminded post-GFC at the number of financial industry professionals who took up a CFA degree with the hopes of attaining a $200,000+ annual salary. Sadly, 85% of the job offers for people with that qualification were for $90,000 or less. Makes sense. Software sophistication is such that a lot of degrees have less value because AI can replace it.

Interesting that Aussie universities are planning to charge double for less useful degrees in liberal arts and less for traditional fields in economics, medicine or law. i.e. discouraging degrees that add little value in the real world.

The new model may end up looking like an educational supermarket. Someone who wants to get into marketing might want to take a course run by Prof. Michael Porter from Harvard University or someone in marine ecology could look to learn a course conducted by Prof Peter Ridd.

All we can say is that education in twenty years won’t look anything like today. Skills matter. Old systems run by faculties that push ideology over education will end up shooting themselves in the foot. The finance market has already moved to a new model where clients pay for “value” of the analyst, not the “firm”. Bring it on.

Coronaveristy Cash Crunch will lead to cost-cutting

FS1

Almost 1 million foreign students attend Australian educational institutions.  Of that 28% are from China according to the Dept of Education.

FS3

New commencements are at half a million. These are not small numbers. We are already seeing universities start to fret over the economic impacts.

The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show that in 2017–18, international education was worth $32.4 billion to the Australian economy, up from $18.9 billion in 2008–09.

FS2

In fees alone, foreign students have forked over $7.4bn in the 2017/18 year from $2.9bn in 2008/09.

FS6

As a % of total university fees, foreign students now represent over 23% from  15.5% in 2008/09.

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By university, we can see where foreign students are most concentrated. Victoria holds 5 of the top 10 destinations for foreign students.

FS4

By number, Victorian universities hold the top 3 places for absolute foreign student numbers, and 31% of the national total. NSW has 25% of all foreign students inside Australia.

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Things will undoubtedly settle down. It is unlikely all of these students will pull the plug and not turn up at Australian universities when Coronavirus issues eventually come under control. As far as attrition rates go in Australia, local kids are far more likely to drop out than overseas students.

FS8

We are already seeing some universities announce they are tightening the purse strings until the situation normalises.

An interesting side topic is a fall-off in permanent residency visas offered by the Dept of Home Affairs to foreign students that graduate in Australian universities. The decadal low numbers don’t seem to have affected foreign student interest.

FS9

Graduate visas have picked up sharply. It will be fascinating to see the post-Coronavirus trends of visas from the DHA.

FS10

Ultimately, Australian schools have been living high off the hog. While the trend of international students has been robust, have any of these schools conducted proper contingency planning if a global recession, pandemic or shock was to ensue?

After 28 years of uninterrupted economic growth, something suggests that most universities have not seriously considered what might happen if the well dried up. Sadly, when such an action plan should have been in place, we will probably see knee jerk cost-cutting in all the wrong places. So much for the educators preparing their customers for the future…