The Rights of International Students in Policy and Law: An Impasse in Trans-national Citizenship?

Stream: Panel 37 - Public Policy & Social Justice: Migration, Race and Asylum Panel 
Date: Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Time: 2.00 pm – 3.30 pm


The world’s major host nations for international students provide differing student rights regimes. International students in some countries receive the same or similar rights as local students, while in many other countries students who do not have permanent resident status are left on their own in a highly marketised, low-rights, high tuition-fee system allowing little more than limited part-time work entitlements, the possibility of longer-term migration and protection of their commercial investment in education services. The objective of this paper is to compare two countries which have pursued the commercialised path to international education, Australia and New Zealand, on the question of international student rights. Relevant policy, legal and pseudo-legal codes are considered and academic, consumer, migration and social rights programmes are analysed. The two national regimes differ in official rights terminology, with Australia having a ‘consumer protection’ focus and New Zealand pursuing a ‘pastoral care’ approach. Yet, analysis of the substance and effect of policy and law in each country reveals that the two are more similar than the government-sanctioned vocabulary suggests. The paper also offers insights into the institutional and political possibilities for reforming international student rights, principally through the conceptual prism of ‘trans-national citizenship’, which is necessitated by the status of international students as people whose rights fall through the cracks of a divide between the home and host countries.


Gaby Ramia (Presenter), The University of Sydney