I'm personally no big fan of Australia in general, mainly due to the excessive commercialisation aspects of Australian tertiary education. In addition, based on anecdotal evidence of the many Australian graduates whom I have received job applications from, as well as interviewed, the general entry requirements into many well-known Australian universities are set too low.
As reported in the Sun today, a study by demographer Bob Birrell of Monash University, “more than one-third of foreign students graduating from Australian universities, mainly Asians, have such poor English skills they should never have been admitted”.
Overall, 34% of the graduating foreign students offered permanent redisence visas last year did not have competent English... [Bob Birell] said he believed the study to be representative of all foreign students, partly because Asia was amajor source of fee-paying overseas students for Australian universities. “It does raise questions about university standards.Apparently, while these students have sufficient grasp of the English language “to cope with most situations” i.e., for day to day use. However, it is rightly argued that English competency for academic studies should be set at a higher standard.
... people who have reached this standard (to cope with most situations) are still not capable of conducting a sophisticated discourse at the professional level.Birrell even claimed that there was a “mountain of anecdotal material” that many overseas students struggled to meet their couse requirements and that universities coped by lowering the English demands of courses.
If indeed true, it is nonetheless, not surprising. Tertiary institutions in Australia are heavily reliant on international students for the latter provides at least 15% of funding, which leads to suggestions that academic standards are sacrificed in favour of financial rewards.
Professor Gerard Sutton, the president of the Australian Vice-Chancellors Committee, could only suggest that the result might be just due to a “deficiency in spoken language”, and not due to proficiency in reading, writing and listening. While possibly valid to a limited extent, I'm doubtful that the reason provided forms the substantive factor behind the large percentage of English sub-competence (is there such a word? ;)) highlighted by Birrell's study.
Does this mean that one should not attend Australian universities? No. But it does mean that students, particularly top students should be more discerning with regards to the universities which they choose to go in Australia, should it be the destination country. If in doubt, always pick the universities with the highest entry requirements.