Down to business

Jielu Cai asks whether the vocational opportunities offered by the Business School are really available to growing number of international students.

Image: Ross (voxphoto), via Flickr.
Image: Ross (voxphoto), via Flickr.
Image: Ross (voxphoto), via Flickr.

We all had some sort of expectations of what university would be like before we came here. We may have imagined what the lectures might be like, how hard the exams would be, or even how many times a week it would be acceptable to get drunk and skip next morning’s lecture. For many of us, however, one question was most prominent: “Where will university lead me?”

I myself had a rather delusive imagination. My first lofty hope was that the Business School would have glamorous lecture rooms. That dream was shattered as soon as I had my first lecture in Merewether. I struggled to sit through an hour-long spiel with no air-conditioning on a 34-degree day as the trucks and cars driving past the building totally deafened me. Never mind— at least I now know that the Business School is working on it. The Abercrombie precinct will be up and running for future business students soon.

I also imagined that I would be having lunches in suits and would need another phone to facilitate the business communications of an incredibly demanding work life. I don’t think that I am an over-ambitious and career-conspicuous person who loses the ability to judge herself. Just look around the Business School— there’s no shortage of career fairs, advertisements and success testimonies. They are always advertised on the Business School’s website, on notice boards, and even on the doors of bathrooms. Life seems so promising.

However, life is very different for an international student. You eye an opportunity that reads something like: ‘We are looking for someone who understands global content’, or ‘Interested in International Business?’ At this point, you’re thinking, “Isn’t that just me? It’s perfect!” 80 per cent of the time, however, after you scroll down with full excitement, you see two words: ‘residency required’. Okay, now you realize that they are not in fact looking for someone from the other side of the globe.

This is understandable. The market is saturated, especially in areas like accounting and finance. When Australia is having difficulty accommodating its own needs, of course domestic students will be prioritised. Often, getting a job in a foreign country has a lot to do with local policies and regulations.  This is very fair and reasonable.

That does not, however, mean that the Business School is justified in attracting more and more international students by saying that they provide a career-focused program, when international students are excluded from internship opportunities and events like career fairs. The School ought to acknowledge the difficulty experienced by international students in pursuing a career, but it’s doubtful that it’s doing anything to improve it.

Bear in mind that international students are paying more than four times the university fees of domestic students. The Business School knows its business. Indeed, it is a shame to think that while we are contributing directly to the Business School, and indirectly to the nation’s GDP, there is hardly anything in it for us.