China accounted for 27% of international students in Australia as of March this year, and Chinese travellers are the country's largest source of international tourism revenue.
Senior government ministers have rejected China’s allegation that international students are unsafe in Australia, as the university sector complains it has been targeted by “unjustified” criticism.
The Group of Eight universities chief executive, Vicki Thomson, considered the warning about Australia “disappointing” and “demonstrably untrue” – while multicultural affairs minister, Alan Tudge, has suggested the ethnicity of participants on hit reality TV show Masterchef proves Australia is a harmonious society.
“In 2018, a survey of more than 80,000 international tertiary students found that personal safety and security is one of the top five factors for deciding to study in Australia – surpassed only by the quality of teaching and the reputation of the qualification,” she said.
Thomson, who leads the prestigious Group of Eight universities, said it was “absolutely committed to our international students and to maintaining a positive and collaborative relationship with China”.“But statements such as this do make things more difficult at an already difficult time,”
Thomson said that China’s claims are “demonstrably untrue” because Australia is an “incredibly safe place for our students” and comments about the “impact of the Covid-19 pandemic” disregarded that Australia had performed “very well” in containing coronavirus.
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