Australian universities face ‘cold winter’ due to fraught ties with China
Published: Jan 06, 2021 09:13 PM

A view of the Australian University of Queensland (UQ) Photo: VCG

Due to fraught China-Australia ties, Australian universities may suffer a "cold winter," as seven top universities in Australia are at risk of losing their rankings in the QS World University Rankings 2021 due to their "over-reliance" on Chinese students, according to the Daily Mail on Monday. 

The seven are the Australian National University (ANU), the University of Sydney (USYD), the University of Melbourne (UofMELB), the University of New South Wales (UNSW), the University of Queensland (UQ), Monash University (MONASH) and the University of Western Australia (UWA), which are all in the the Group of Eight (Go8).

Liang Zeyue, an overseas study consultant, told the Global Times that QS rankings are important for Chinese students in seeking employment after graduation.

"Residency policies and companies' needs in China can determine the student enrollment rates for oversea universities," said Liang. The residency policies for Shanghai state that the graduate university must be within the QS top 500, and some government departments may have an even higher standard of QS top 200, said Liang.

Li Chen, founder of an overseas study consultant business in Yinchuan, Northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, said that the methodology for QS rankings has six indicators: academic peer review, faculty/student ratio, citations per faculty, employer reputation, international student ratio and international staff ratio.

"The lack of Chinese students may directly affect the indicators for the international student and staff ratios, which account for 10 percent in total," said Li. She said that universities like UQ, MONASH and UWA — which are relatively low in the rankings — may fall out of the top 100. The top three universities (ANU, USYD and UofMELB) may still be ranked in the top 100. 

In June 2020, the Chinese Ministry of Education warned students not to study in Australia due to the uncontrolled COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing problems surrounding racial prejudice. Liang said many Chinese students and their parents have to consider the pandemic and the problem of racism when choosing an overseas study destination.

"Universities in Australia have an advantage, which is that their requirements are typically lower than universities in the UK or the US, but they still have high QS rankings," said Li. The number of students who went to study in Australia last year handled by her company declined by 20-30 percent.

Bo Qian, a Chinese student studying in the UK for a master's degree, told the Global Times that most Australian universities only offer master's degree programs that take at least three semesters. "The one-year programs of UK universities are the most attractive point for me," said Bo.

Bo said that if she had chosen to study in Australia in 2020, Australian diplomatic issues and local social problems would have troubled her a lot.

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