CHINA / SOCIETY
Experts call for education alert over Australia amid mounting racist attacks
Published: Feb 04, 2021 10:10 PM

The dining zone of the Sydney Opera House Photo: Xinhua

With rising reports of racist attacks against Chinese students in Australia, education insiders advised students to choose their study destinations with caution and urged Chinese education authorities to issue an alert for safety risks.

The Global Times learned from materials provided by the China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE), a non-profit organization, that there have been more reports of Chinese students being abused and beaten in Australia, apparently due to race.

There were such reports on three consecutive days in January. A female Chinese student was insulted and beaten in the head by a group of six people in Sydney on January 12. A master's degree student surnamed Wu at Monash University was beaten by a white man after shopping near the campus and had the cartilage in his nose broken the following day. On the evening of January 14, a Chinese student at Australian National University was attacked by a group at a bus station in Canberra, getting serious injuries to his jaw, right cheek and multiple abrasions. The abusers also insulted them with racist words like "chigga."

About a dozen of Chinese students in Australia reached by the Global Times expressed regret and suggested Chinese applicants look at other countries considering the discrimination problem, the COVID-19 pandemic, visa restrictions and low-quality online teaching.

The Australian Department of Home Affairs released data showing that the number of Chinese mainland students registered in Australia fell in 2020 from 2019, but it was still more than 220,000. China is also the biggest source of international students for Australia.

Yin Kai, secretary general of the overseas study service branch of CEAIE, told the Global Times on Thursday that Australia was one of the earliest education markets to be open for Chinese students, and it had been stable as of 2019-20.

Australia's educational resources are not bad, and the costs are relatively lower than in the UK and the US. One-year master's programs in business and media are cost-effective and popular for some students, Yin said.

But the market is also saturated, leading to fiercer competition. The government's China policy is not friendly and Chinese students have suffered from discrimination and stigmatization by some Australian media and politicians, Yin said, noting the declining is also resulted from the pandemic and falling rankings of some Australian universities.

"Considering the epidemic, personal safety and overall quality, I advised Chinese students to be careful when choosing to study in Australia," Yin said.

Qin Lin, an associate research fellow at China's National Institute of Education Sciences, pointed out that travel restrictions and an unfriendly China policy, as well as other uncertainties, have brought psychological pressure to Chinese students.

The Chinese Ministry of Education issued an alert in June 2020 regarding Australia due to a spike in racial discrimination against Chinese people amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Both Yin and Qin advised education authorities to issue an education alert again as guide for Chinese students. Yin also suggested updating information about the racial attacks in a timely manner for prospective students to refer to.


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