To Serve International Students


According to the ABS, Australia hosted 589,860 international students in 2014.

Ballpark calculations show that we, as a country, could generate up to 15,000 tons of edible international student meat per year.That’s more than 100 million dollars, being conservative 1.

Eating our international students, then, could be a huge revenue stream for Aussies.


Data shows that international students have higher chances to suffer a violent crime. They’re three times more likely to live in overcrowded dwellings than domestic students, they pay up to six times more university fees 2 and twice more for public transport.

When one comes to Australia as an international student is required to pay for mandatory medical checks,  medical insurance and a student VISA. They have limits to how much they can work, they often have worse jobs and tend to pay more in required training and certification -RSA, RCG, white card, green card, etc.- to access them.

Additionally they’re more vulnerable to cheap labour and exploitation. If you’re unlucky you can end up being paid under $8 an hour.


It may seem they’re being sucked out the narrow, all but literally. If we’re just looking for profit we’re doing great, aren’t we?

The next logical step toward benefit would be, as the government probably is already contemplating, to literally eat them. This is the kind of proactive, out of the box approach that we desperately need to thrive in an increasingly competitive global environment. A modest proposal, if you like.

Then why we’re not already enjoying yummy postgrad dumplings  and uploading the pictures on Instagram? Some argue it could derive into an economic hindrance. I’ll explain why it won’t.

It turns out international students may be stubborn at times. In 2009 they protested in Sydney and Melbourne claiming equal rights. Or specifically, the right to access concession transportation cards, which usually grant a 50 percent discount in public transport fares. At the time Victoria and NSW were the only two states where only Australian residents could access this assistance

Victoria reacted, eventually. NSW didn’t.

NSW launched the new Opal Card in 2014, and the subsequent concession Opal Card this February. Only domestic students can access it.

Best case scenario: you can pay $8,4 a week for unlimited travel. That’s around $436 for travelling every week of the year if you’re good using your Opal. When I reached out Transport NSW for a word on alternatives for international students, they urged them to buy the 365-day ticket. That’s $1,600 per year. If international students don’t start rioting because of that, eating them probably won’t make it either.

According to Transport NSW, international students weren’t a priority long before Opal Card, so it isn’t to blame for the situation.

“It’s long-standing government policy that Australians and recipients of those scholarships [Endeavour, Australia Awards] have access to concession fares. That existed before Opal.”

Transport NSW representative

In fact, other institutions followed the trend. Public pools are being asked to request for the concession sticker of international students to grant them student discounts. If you happen to be an international student, no sticker for you.

University of Sydney student Xue Chen was recently asked for a concession sticker to access to student fees in the North Sydney Pool . She claims she felt “confused” and “depressed”.

My point is: NSW can make students feel completely miserable and it’ll still maintain the title of the state with the highest number of international students. International students will put up with whatever we throw at them.

Therefore, it doesn’t matter if international students generated $15,7bn and 151,800 fixed term jobs in 20143. It doesn’t matter if they’re a magnet for tourism, fundamental for research and development and to address skill shortages, or if they have a crucial role maintaining our education system and foreign relations.

It doesn’t matter because eating international students would generate $100m and would unlikely have a negative effect in their visits. It may not seem like a big deal, but from a strict revenue rationale, $15.8bn is better than $15.7bn.


Still, there’s a small chance on this decision being counter-productive in the long term if international students return to their old habits. On the other hand, judging the precedents, it seems highly unlikely: our whole policy-making process is based in the assumption that no matter how hard you screw international students, they’ll keep coming in figures.

So far it has worked just fine. Eating them, then, is more a continuation of current policies rather than its abrupt revision.

However, even in the event of international students abandoned their passive stand. Even if they protested and stopped at the perspective of being eaten;  even then, with the economic loss it would imply, it could be for good.

Some Australians have been pointing out the annoying nature of international students. Let the discussions regarding the concession Opal Card serve as example.

Some of the comments are made in a powerful but unarticulated way we should understand: “If you have such a problem why not go to Uni in your own country and then you can get your student bus price lol (sic)”. Or “The choice is for international students to come to study in Australia. Its (sic) not as if anyone has sugarcoated the cost that you are potentially paying to make the travel”.

The evident hostility towards international students may be the best proof of their negative effect in our country and culture. It’s a visceral reaction against something foil that is indubitably there, but that escapes a definition. They may contribute with an impressive amount of money, hard work and endurance. Even the claims of international students lowering the bar of our education may have been proven to be untrue.



Nevertheless we still recognise we don´t like them. They’re change, they’re the other. They’re the end of Australia as we know it.

And yes, cultures mutate, evolve and perish as a natural process: the ruins of ancient Greece fertilised modern western civilisation. Rome succumbed to brutality. Pre-Columbian empires are forever gone. Even Australia has transitioned from totally different stages in recent decades.

Nonetheless, one cannot but wonder if Australian culture in 2015 is not the epitome of human spirit and deserves to be preserved, forever immutable, to be a symbol of the marvels achievable by mankind. It probably does.

1 Calculations made with 25kg of meat per student on average and a market price of $9/kg.

2 Percentages of domestic student and international student fee contribution available here. Calculations done with percentage of international tertiary students and total fee contribution to higher education.

3 Jobs per international student in 2009 data provided by the ATN. Data extrapolated using international student numbers from 2014.




4 thoughts on “To Serve International Students

  1. Hi Bruno,

    Did you know we all gulped when we saw what you’d done with your commentary? Really great job! Not because I’m in it (LOL), but because I like the sarcastic humor in your story. I just couldn’t stop laughing as I read it. Every bit of the details in the text, infographics and even the footnotes is worth reading. (that quote of Abott in the bottom corner, oh my god!)

    Cesar said we should set the tone of the story with our first paragraph, and I can see that you did it with a picture instead of text – the old scroll paper kind of style with a Chinese passport on a plate – which makes it much easier to understand what you’re going to say next about “eating” international students. And you keep that style throughout the article, which gives it a sense of consistency.

    All I can find is a minor grammatical mistake “in the other hand” instead of “on the other hand”. Other than that, all good.

    And I would be really glad if you could share with us which app you did it with. Thanks and good luck with everything!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment! 😀 😀 😀

      Just corrected that mistake, thanks!

      I knew I’d have a very busy schedule at work these weeks so I had to think in advance to avoid rushing, specially because all the assessment deadlines were so close!

      I’m glad you liked the article and that it made you laugh. I think it’s the best thing you could say about it, I didn’t want it to leave a bitter taste. It’s supposed to be informative but funny!

      About the infographic, I used photoshop to do it. Actually I did it by hand, I used a wacom tablet like this one, but the process was entirely handmade. From the text to the illustrations. The only thing I didn’t do was the old paper texture that I used as a background. But if you’d like to learn more about photoshop or tools to do infographics, I’m happy to help 🙂

      Again, thanks for your comment, I really appreciate your feedback (you’re the first person commenting my work in this unit!!).

      Have a great long weekend!

      Best regards,



  2. Hi Bruno!

    Thank you very much for your comment on my post, I really appreciate it!

    To tell you the truth, I am surprised with the infographics you have here. Are they your own drawings? If yes, you should credit to yourself then because it’s amazing! 😀

    Just to let you know as well, I was wondering if the drawing style of your infographic has any significance in your story. For me, the drawing style has a strong sense of the old times or ‘classic’ era, so I was wondering if they relate to the tone of your writing, which I assume is humorous but also a bit… sarcastic, because you used the metaphorical term “eat” (which I think is hilarious in some ways and suitable for VICE, your intended publication). But I eventually realised that the infographics look like a restaurant’s menu, so I totally get what you mean.

    Oh, and maybe you can consider to put the graphics only into one compiled file (as in the last one), because having the visuals after the data is being introduced sometimes can be a little bit distractive. But, I do love your infographics! So my suggestion is maybe to use only one big infographic and put it at the beginning or the end of your writing (depends on your purpose!).
    Another thing is just a correction on “Tonny Abbott” on the last infographic. Isn’t it should be “Tony” or did you deliberately use double N as to reflect the tone of your writing?

    Overall, I think your writing is very good. It’s very informative and fulfilled with reliable data, so congratulations for the great work! 😀


    • Hi Felkiza!

      Thanks so much for your comment!

      Yes, they’re my own drawings, thanks!!

      I chose this drawing style because it looks like a cook book. First of all, and all this is a bit meta, this article is based in a text written by Jonathan Swift called “a modest proposal”. In it he recommended, in a similar tone, to eat Irish babies to eradicate poverty. That’s the reason of the predominant Victorian/pre-Victorian

      Also, the title is a reference to “To serve man”. A sci-fi writing -and Twilight Zone episode- about an Alien race who helps humans develop, but then the main characters translates their main book, “To serve man”, and turns out to be a recipe book. Since I saw so many Australian media focused in “serving international students”, I found a delightful allusion to make. Honouring the story and the recipe book itself, I tried to make everything look as a recipe book. For the lol.

      And of course you’re completely right about the images breaking the rhythm, I’ll try to change them a little bit so they may flow better and make more sense within the content. Originally I was only using the full compiled infographic, but as I don’t have many resources apart from it, the text seemed a bit arid and monotonous.

      About the Tonny/Tonny issue, is completely accidental, so joke’s on me.

      Thanks for your feedbak, I really appreciate it, hope you had a good time reading it.

      About your article, no kidding, blew my mind. Thanks for that 🙂


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