Broadcast earlier this month, an episode of Australia Broadcasting Corporation’s Four Corners has created quite a buzz in the world of international education. And for good reason; the episode, titled Cash Cows, claims that Australian universities have deliberately lowered their intake standards in order to attract international students.
Now to be fair, this “lowering” is not across the board; the show itself mentions less than a dozen universities by name, with Murdoch University in particular occupying a substantial amount of air time. Also, as published in this PIE News article, there are counter claims that the episode only covered a “small proportion” of the Australian international student community.
As noted in the same article, there are also allegations of racism against the show itself, allegations that I think are perfectly valid. You definitely sense that some of the interviews were deliberately published to prove a single narrative; a broader array of participants would have definitely provided a more balanced point of view.
If nothing else though, the episode does act as a welcome reminder of just how important it is to research before enrolling into any course in any country. A few of the international students interviewed are clearly disappointed by the reality of their courses; this is not what they had signed up for. This is not what they had been promised.
The need for adequate research is especially valid for a course like the LL.M., a non-professional degree with tuition fees that can often be astronomical.
Closer home, the points the show raise are ones which can so easily be applied to the Indian context. The promises made, and the disappointments faced. The reduction of the welfare State from education, and the lowering of academic standards for commercial reasons.
There are also mentions of passing references to academic misconduct in the form of plagiarism, and student suicides – two issues that ought to be getting a lot more attention in Indian law schools than they currently are.
Anyway, I think the episode is worth a watch, and you can see the entire episode below: