International students and local Australians speak out against “Overseas students go home” event

THE international student community has responded to a meeting organised by the Australia First Party that aims to put an end to the Federal Government’s Overseas Student Program. Darren Boon reports.

Photo: Roy Liu via Facebook

Photo: Roy Liu via Facebook

A public meeting organised by the Australia First Party (AFP) rallying Australian students and families to voice their opposition against the Government’s Overseas Student Program (OSP) has sparked an outcry amongst the international student community.

The meeting first drew criticism amongst present and former international students, as well as local Australians, after user Roy Liu shared a picture of the leaflet he reportedly received in his mailbox in Enmore. The photo has since been shared more than 440 times.

According to his Facebook profile, Mr Liu is from Tianjin, China, and studied at TAFE Sydney Institute, Australian College of Applied Psychology and Georges River College.

Most Facebook users have expressed dismay and anger at the event.

Van Pham, who shared the picture, said: “When I see this, I actually don’t think for myself. I feel extremely sorry [for] them. This still happens in this 21st century: narrow-minded people and small hearts.”

Melburnian Johnny McTiernan said on Facebook, “They demonstrate either an infantile misunderstanding of basic economics, or else outright dishonesty. Education is a major export earner for this country. With near record low unemployment, the additional labour supply has only one effect – to grow our economy and make every Australian more prosperous.”

International student peak body Council of International Students Australia (CISA) president Thomson Ch’ng has expressed his “shock” and “disappointment” at the AFP’s meeting.

“We don’t support these campaigns and we ask international students to stay united when it comes to this kind of challenges in society,” he told Meld.

“It is very important that international students do not overreact to this issue and at the same time look after their own well-being,” Mr Ch’ng added.

Mr Ch’ng also urged major political parties “to come up with a position regarding this issue and give assurance to international students that Australia is still a welcoming place to them”.

A spokesperson for the Minister for Education Christopher Pyne told Meld, “The Australian Government completely repudiates any racism, and any suggestion that international students are not welcome in Australia. They are tremendously welcome.”

The spokesperson added that interaction between international students and the Australian community allow for a deepened “international and intercultural understanding” that is “especially important today”.

Conversely, the AFP has stated that the public meeting is not meant to be offensive nor xenophobic.

Australia First Party’s president Dr Jim Saleam told Meld, “To argue for a future for our people and country is a justified act of self-defence. There is not slightest thought on my part, or our part, that racial hatred is any part of it.”

He also noted that the AFP is not concerned that education is one of Australia’s top export industries, and further warned that the Asian Century is a threat to the Australian identity.

Dr Saleam considers the original Colombo Plan in the 1950s – which allowed international students to study in Australia who will then return to their home countries to aid in their countries’ development – praiseworthy.

However, he also feels many international students “consider education here a ticket to migrate and take on a share of something that we say, isn’t theirs to have”.

Flagging this as a “crisis”, Dr Saleam said that “we Australians are obliged to do what we must”.

The Party eventually hopes to “undermine the credibility” of the OSP. It will coordinate with the Eureka Youth League to promote the Party’s ideology to students in the universities, he said.

The Party also calls for “free universal education with universities open to all based upon merit” and the abolishment of the HECS policy and debts, Dr Saleam said.

This is not the first time the AFP has organised such events. A search revealed that similar anti-overseas education events were held in 2010 and again in 2013.

There are 18 comments

  1. Joyce

    I would just like to add on top of what has been said in the article that it is extremely difficult to get employed in Australia in the first place; the job market tends to side with Australian citizens and PR holders first above all else. It is extremely difficult to get a job even with a TR and your chances of securing a PR only gets higher if you are getting a degree which lends itself to solving a employment shortage Australia has in a particular sector. Look, I honestly admire the Australian government for taking good care of their citizen’s employment first – you need to understand that not all governments in the world are like that.

    Secondly, aside from being a major source of income, the whole point of university life seeks to expand one’s horizons! This is not just done through textbooks and lectures but also listening to the different viewpoints from others who are unlike you. You would expect a more reputable university to have a diverse group of people from all walks of life. If anything, it expands cultural life rather than diminish it.

    That’s all I have to say.

    1. Katherine

      I still feel that this is unfair even though I am Australian.

      And Universities need money from International students. Joyce you are being un Australian. You should be ashamed of yourself

      1. Joyce

        That’s because I’m not Australian, Katherine 🙂 And I totally agree that Australian universities need money from international students.

    2. MMM

      Not a lot of governments? You are wrong joyce, there are lots of governments which do what australia has done. In anycase, migrants have and always will be welcome in australia, as this is a migrant country. The international student program should not be cut indefinitely…

      1. Joyce

        Wait, MMM. I think you’ve mistaken what I meant. I’m saying that this campaign for Australians first is ridiculous because it is already hard as it is for an international student (like myself) to get a PR! And by other countries, I’m talking about my own.

  2. Joyce

    Also, just one more thing. If you’re talking about ethnic cleansing, I say we should bring more aboriginal natives into the university system too.

  3. Doit

    No wonder. Guys you should remember that they are decended from the nobel families who were released from their cages to occupy Australia

  4. Anonymous

    If you can’t compete with people from “developing countries”, who also cant speak your language properly then you should feel ashamed of yourself first rather than blaming on us, right? Where are ur skills? Where r ur brains? Think, successful Australians never complain, only those who can’t do shits, expect jobs coming from nowhere now looking for someone to take blame on :so sad:

  5. MMM

    I’d really like to know what do the members of this party mean, when they say ‘Australians first’.. is it all Australians… Aboriginal Australians.. or Caucasian Australians?

  6. Anonymous

    What is Australia anyways? Many years ago, a group of people stole lands from the Aborigines and called themselves Australians. And now, they dislike people bringing in heaps of money for the economy and afraid they will migrate into the country when their backgrounds are properly all migrants. People don’t come here for free stuff. They pay for their fees, work hard and pour lots of money for their residency.

    Australia is a free and fair country. Who stops Australians going to Uni? Who stops Australians getting jobs? No one. If you got what it takes then you will get the job. Who is there to take jobs away from Australians?
    To be honest, I think those oversea students have been adding value and financial benefit for this country. They are better than those unemployed Australian (just because they don’t like working) who are taking everything for granted, receiving money from Centrelink. Shame on that stupid party and their supporter for say shit like that!

  7. Joyce

    Wait, MMM. I think you’ve mistaken what I meant. I’m saying that this campaign for Australians first is ridiculous because it is already hard as it is for an international student (like myself) to get a PR! And by other countries, I’m talking about my own.

  8. CEE

    Just think about the tax that we are paying but we don’t get anything from it.. And Us international students pay more than what Australians pay (in universities).. So what’s this party is complaining about?? we’re helping your universities to survive..

  9. Kerwin

    “the AFP has stated that the public meeting is not meant to be offensive nor xenophobic”

    I find it hypocritical for them to say that since the leaflet blatanlty says for overseas students to get up and leave!

    If this so called meeting is not meant to be what was said from the quote then why would the leaflet say otherwise?

  10. Anonymous

    Its not that we “can’t compete,” it’s that we get undercut. There are too many occupations on the skilled PR list that shouldn’t be there. Some of the jobs on this list are saturated and have high unemployment. I’m all for accepting international students, but believe the government should have a more active role in maintaing and changing the list. Mining engineer is on the bloody list for god sake. I have 3 mates made redundant in this area. The masters i’m currently enrolled in is 90% internationals and the job prospects are slim, I was talking about the poor outlook for grads in Australia at the moment with an international student (who is a friend) and he was extremely angry punching the chair in front of us. I don’t understand who is telling them that Australia has good job prospects.

    Anyway everybody seems to be struggling to keep their head above water at the moment. Don’t point fingers, instead group together to create jobs. We need entrepreneurs, not negative Nelly’s.

  11. jr

    I truly hate Australia! I have lost faith in humanity after being in Australia for three years. This country loves wasting money helping out Africa all the time, instead of building new jobs to those dole bludgers. Can’t wait until the day I exit Australia, and will never come back here again, ever. Australians will be treated as third class when I do run into any in my country. Drink your fudging life away!

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