How Racism Still Prevails in Developed Countries
A while back, my husband and I while watching daily news on Youtube came across this video titled ‘Cash Cows: Australian universities making billions out of international students’ by Four Corners. It picked our interest, and so we started watching the video.
Five minutes into the video, and we were shocked at their findings and remarks which were distasteful and demeaning to a specific Indian community.
The video shows universities are taking international students to cash in on the revenue deficit that they are facing since the last few years. Funding cuts have put pressure on the universities to cut costs and increase income streams.
There are several flawed arguments in the video, and it raises some serious concerns with the direction, messaging and intent of the video.
It is racially provocative and is created in quite a distaste for the Indian student community.
It says, and I quote ‘International students are worth $34 billion to the Australian economy, with China, India and Nepal the top countries of origin for foreign students’ however there is only one reference in the entire video to Chinese students and no reference to Nepalese students.
The whole video has been selectively targeted towards the Indian student community and that too one particular community.
It talks about the English language requirements and cultural differences with no mention of the skill sets of these students.
It lacks the in-depth analysis which they claim they have done for making this video — it doesn’t tell you how lack of ‘English speaking students’ impacts the college environment, or how it leads to an increase in unemployed graduates or how they steal seats from the ‘more deserving candidates’?
What is the real issue?
Language is just a medium for communication, it is essential, and I don’t deny that but aren’t we superficial if we base the entire video and discredit them on just this one aspect without understanding the impact. Fun fact — English is only spoken by 3 out of 4 people. 25% of the population speak a different language and Mandarin being the most common one. Unfortunately, the ‘so-what’ is missing.
Still, in essence, after reviewing the video, I understand the crux of the issue is that there are a few irregularities in the admissions process in Murdoch University which have been blown out of proportion to create a clickbait News Headline — ‘Cash cows: Australian universities making billions out of international students’ and the subtle sub-text being ‘How one University has tried to subvert the Immigration regularities to suit their admissions process’
Interestingly however the arguments presented talk very little about the process itself as it talks about the students in poor light and that’s where you understand RACISM
Here I dissect some of these arguments presented in that video and my counter-arguments
Argument — One of the points raised by a former Immigration official was ‘The increasing number of Indian and Nepalese students is a huge concern for the students themselves. And also for those influencing these decisions and impacts their ability to determine the long-term outcome they can achieve.’
Counter — Firstly, the nos. alone shouldn’t be a concern. There are 0.5 Mn Indian students as compared to 2 Mn Chinese students. And with the universities filling in more applicants, it seems more like a demand-supply equation rather than a concern. Secondly, I strongly believe in the immigration system — it is in place to send the students back to their home country after completion of higher studies if they aren’t able to find a job or get an extended visa. So it would be wrong to assume the long-term outcome will be adverse and is a concern for them in the present.
Argument — The aspect of lack of diversity is being raised as many international students have no exposure to local Australian culture. As such, there should be a fine balance between locals and international students.
Counter — It is a fair point to encourage diversity of students but, who is to blame in this case, not the international students but the universities who aren’t probably having any reservations for local students or because there aren’t as many local students opting for those courses. The reasons need to be specific and well-articulated.
Argument — Students with very poor English language capabilities have been able to get a visa. It also says that many Universities have waived the English language requirements and there are a large number of cases in recent years. However, Prof Margaret Garnder, Universities Australia countered by saying the Higher education standards that need to be adhered to be accredited as universities are in place and are administered by the tertiary education quality and standards agency
Counter — What numbers are we talking about again? How many have such cases of English waiver been seen in the last one year, three years and five years? Which universities have done so? Is it just the Indian community or there are other nationalities too? India has English as their first language in many schools. So while there is an accent, it is reasonably understood in the world. So not showing any reference to Chinese students or other Asian or East European countries (where English is not their first language) makes the research very superficial and also shows the selective dissent against the Indian student community.
It talks about how the recruitment agency OECC has been explicitly targeting Punjab where they have a no. of offices, and they are using whatever means they can to achieve the visa outcome.
Argument — OECC has been selling offer letters for Murdoch University in Punjab for a fee over and above what the University charges. They also raise concerns with a lot of applications being sent to waive English language requirements, and these academicians have thus increased the alarm to the University management. The next 15 mins talk about how these students cannot complete even the first semester, not able to recognise the USB stick or fill out forms and a considerable increase in academic misconduct cases, have a low level of written English and a rise in cases of plagiarism.
Counter — while I am not against the points raised here which are legitimate and genuine concerns. However, by not showing the viewers the full picture, it is difficult to understand the gravity of the problem. Can you please show data points around how many such students who don’t complete the first semester are from India and other countries? How many of the misconduct cases are from India and China and other countries? This would help to understand the problems holistically about the immigration laws, flawed admission policies, university misdoings, etc. on the whole rather than it being seen from the lens of one specific country or rather one particular state of that country. This selective picking shows that the creators want the viewers to focus on this specific sub-segment of immigrants rather than talk about the issue at hand here.
Argument — It talks about the hardships that the students would have to go through as they would be separated from the families, partners, and kids.
Counter — Unfortunately, this is a different issue of immigration and not of the education system. By this point in the video, it seems the video has switched direction from the loopholes in the admissions procedure to the issues faced by the student community. Also ironically they counter their point in the video — it says there is a lot of financial pressure on these students to do well and failure is not a choice for them, but just a few minutes back you said these same students could afford to pay double the fees to get in. So quite evidently, there seems to be some contrast to what you are presenting. Either-ways believe the issue with the student hardships, cultural adjustments and overall financial pressure is not something restricted to an Indian student community, and it applies to all students. Period. It is part and parcel of life for any international student.
Argument — The Professor interviewed says, ‘I saw this long queue of Indian students and my heart sank as there were all these significant issues, and now we have more. Maybe they were fine, but I was worried about what would happen and after that, I became very depressed.
Counter — The counter is in the Professor’s statement itself — ‘Maybe they were fine’. Yes, if we do not know what the issue is, they are just recently admitted, then how can we comment about it. The issues raised in the video were to show the University’s shortcomings, policy loophole in immigration, etc. However, this statement by Professor students as the perpetrators rather than victims.
Argument — The latter part of the video does give out a few more insights from the university standpoint. A letter was sent out to the University management detailing all the issues and concerns by the Professors. However, their claims were dismissed by the management saying there were only 3–4 English requirement waivers and no problems with the Indian student community but more to do so with the cultural understanding or the lack thereof by the Professors. Similarly, a preliminary review made into the student recruitment and the Vice-Chancellor informed no adverse findings against the staff member.
Counter — It just seems the problem (read almost in the last 10 mins of the video) is now explicitly defined ‘Recruitment of Indian students in high nos and with low English speaking standards in Murdoch University’. There it is — that is the sole crux of the problem is with one specific community of students being recruited at one particular University. However, the direction is such that it leads the viewer to understand that the problem is with Indian students and with many universities taking them and so it is systemic. No, it isn’t unless there are pure facts to support these claims. Unfortunately, there isn’t.
The video ends on the note that there were ‘little’ problems with compliance to English language requirements and there aren’t substantial numbers or arguments to justify the claims. So just by picking up a few spokespersons such as Mr Ram Lochan Singh and Mr Durstan who seem to express their views on this subject, it should be treated as exactly that — their views and opinions on a few irregularities in one University instead of showing the entire Indian student community in poor light.