A new report on international students’ experiences has found widespread satisfaction across all survey areas — learning, support on arrival, living and support services — at a rate higher than similar competitor nations.
The lone exception is living and accommodation costs which registered only a 50 per cent satisfaction rating.
The biannual International Student Survey was released by federal education minister Christopher Pyne on the back of a NSW report which suggested widespread cheating, low academic standards and even corruption. A report on the ABC tonight is widely expected to come to similar conclusions.
“The report confirms that the reputation of Australian institutions and the quality of teaching are by far the most important factors for international students choosing Australia over other countries,” Mr Pyne said in a statement.
Chris Ziguras, a higher education researcher from RMIT, said the survey threw a positive light on a sector currently under siege by media.
“This report is reassuring to the government and to the sector as a whole that students are coming here for all the right reasons and generally satisfied. Australia is on par with and outperforming other destinations,” Dr Ziguras said.
While the broad brushstroke nature of the overview support lacked nuance, the over all picture was undeniably positive, Dr Ziguras said.
“You’re asking people to tick boxes and you are not getting deep insights. If it was a one-off survey then you’d say it was pretty bland but the fact it’s been done three times in succession shows (the aggregate results) are reassuring.”
Dr Ziguras said he was “dismayed” by last week’s Independent Commission Against Corruption report.
“I’m not sure who they spoke to but they apparently didn’t speak to students,” he said.
“It’s dismaying not because of what it says about the sector but because of the way the sector is perceived. That’s very depressing,” he said.
Dr Ziguras also said he was concerned about the potential for corruption based on the fact international students generate revenue.
“All students generate revenue. The same potential exists for such things with the admittance of domestic students in undergraduate programs with universities dipping lower and lower into ATARs because evert new student brings revenue. There’s the same potential there.”
Fiona Docherty, pro vice-chancellor (international) at UNSW said feedback from international students at her institution didn’t line up with the view promulgated in the ICAC report, especially in relation to the use of agents.
“I’m interested in feedback after students get here and can reflect objectively on their choices to come to that university. Our experience shows that 90 per cent of students are satisfied with their agents,” Ms Docherty said.
Scott Sheppard, deputy vice-chancellor (international) at Queensland University of Technology, also said he struggled to correlate the ICAC report’s findings with the experience of international students at his institution.
“Maybe it’s because we have a relatively low percentage of international student enrolments, but the findings didn’t alight with our experience,” Professor Sheppard said.
Source: The Australian