Briefing Papers

2002 – CAPA White paper on International Students

27 Aug 02

Attachment: CAPA Paper

In the last 10 years, Federal Government funding to Australian Universities has been steadily decreasing. Concurrently, income from private sources has dramatically increased. Funding from fee-paying students has increased from 5 percent in 1992 to 12 percent in 1999 (AVCC, 2001) (Figure 1). As recently outlined by the Federal Minister for Education, Science and Training, Dr Brendan Nelson, in his Overview Paper, Higher Education at the Crossroads:

“From the mid-1980s the Commonwealth encouraged Universities to find funds from other sources in order to ensure that the system, could continue to expand. Over the decade, income from fees and charges doubled mainly due to the conscious effort of Universities to attract more overseas students. The number of overseas students tripled. By 1999 revenue from fee-paying overseas students amounted to $805 million or approximately 10 percent of the sector revenue” (Nelson, 2002: 53).

Education is the tenth major export industry in Australia. International students bring not only income but also multicultural and cosmopolitan influences into our country. The education market is harsh and competition always on the increase. International students are, importantly, considered ‘Australian Residents for taxation purposes’, and pay all taxes, both income tax (if they earn a salary or wage) and Goods and Services Tax, applicable to all other Australian citizens. Unfortunately, this obligation has not proven sufficient to entitle them to equitable access to many benefits that are financed with those taxes.

International students are squeezed dry inconsiderately and the government can afford to ignore their claims for equitable treatment. In contrast to other global competitors, Australia is withdrawing the benefits that International students used to have, and worsening economic pressure under which they live.

We believe that a major change is required. If Australia wants to lead the global education market of the future, CAPA recommends that the Federal Government give serious consideration to our proposed policies. The following pages provide the argument behind our proposals.