This paper written in collaboration with Dr Devaki Monani, analyses the social science perspectives that can help us understand the past and project the future of the international students situation in Australia. The paper was commissioned by Universities Australia, the Human Rights Commission and the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, to draw on social science research through a human rights lens. The paper does not reflect the views of the commissioning bodies, though the AHRC has a campaign to press the federal government to move forward on human rights issues for international students.
The attraction, retention, well-being and quality of outcomes for international students have become major policy and political issues in Australia and in many of the students’ countries of origin. In Australia the perceived range of environmental and social impacts of a rapidly growing international student presence has stimulated public attention. The economic contribution of international students has also played a critical role in Australia’s survival through the global financial crisis, buffering the Australian dollar and sustaining a higher level of service sector export income than almost any other nation ….