International education is one of Australia’s largest export industries, coming in behind coal, iron ore and now the natural gas industry. But there is a dissonance here – a contradiction.
There is surely a difference between digging, extracting and shipping out the earth’s resources, and bringing in hundreds of thousands of young people, all in search of self-improvement, a leg up in the job market back home, a better life in Australia, or all three. Mining exports are relatively simple. Young people are complicated.