Australian universities will only be allowed to recruit a full quota of Chinese students when the Australian Government is given a guarantee they will all leave the country after their courses, a vice-chancellor from New South Wales said.
Traditional markets for Australian universities, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, were becoming saturated, Professor Clifford Blake of Charles Sturt University said. With just two per cent of students coming from Southeast Asia, institutions were now looking to China, India and the Middle East.
But, he said: 'The number of students from China studying in Australia this year is smaller than even five years ago.' 'The increasing number who overstay or come to Australia with the wrong motives has caused the Government to put up stronger restrictions on entry.' Many Chinese students had arrived in Australia about five years ago, started to learn English, gone to university and then disappeared during their courses.
'There are now very few Chinese students approved to come to study English. Most of them coming at the moment are for post-graduate courses,' he said.
'Although many universities in Australia would like to offer courses in China or welcome Chinese students, it is hard to see that happening without a solution being sorted out by the governments on both sides.' But he pointed out that China needed professionals and people with technical training, and Australia realised the potential student market offered by the mainland.
'The restrictions set by the Chinese Government on foreign degrees being offered on the mainland are another obstacle,' he said.
Charles Sturt University staff are discussing the setting up of a year-long foundation course at Shenzhen International School.
'We propose to set up the first year of a university degree in business, science and computing, with the possibility of either further studying at the university or being transferred to New Zealand or the United States,' Professor Blake said.
However, Professor Tam Sheung-wai, director of the Open Learning Institute said many mainland students would not do well even if they went to Australia, mainly because of the language problem.
Degrees taught in Chinese would be more useful than foreign qualifications, he said.