The Internationalisation of Australia's Higher Education System: Trading Away Human Rights

Jacob Debets

Abstract


The commoditisation and internationalisation of Australia’s education system has been so far-reaching that Australia’s economic stability, and the future of higher education institutes, are now largely dependent on the continued enrolment of overseas students into their courses. This paper critically analyses the international education industry, demonstrating that the current policy approach adopted by governments and education providers is fundamentally incompatible with Australia’s human rights obligations towards international students and fundamentally unsustainable if left unaccompanied by human rights principles. It begins with a history of Australia’s neoliberal approach to international education and how this approach has made international students vulnerable to significant and pervasive human rights abuses by both private and public actors. It then argues that the 2009 Indian student protests saga was at its core a revolt against this state of affairs and that responses to this crisis by government were ineffective because they fell back on market principles. It then discusses recent developments in the higher education sector and the 7-Eleven underpayments scandal, before making the case for restructuring Australia’s international education sector in alignment with its human rights obligations. 

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References


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