Chinese students ‘positive’ about Australia despite tensions



Chinese college students’ feelings towards Australia have heated up over the past year, as aspiring academics assess the southern nation’s attractions as a home.

An artificial intelligence-based analysis has found that Chinese sentiment toward higher education in the Antipodes has little in common with the tense political relations between the two countries. Australia is ahead of its main English-speaking rivals as a place to study, followed by Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom in that order, according to the study.

Chinese netizens focus not only on universities and colleges, but also on the healthcare system, schools, and lifestyle features, which suggests that they see Australia as a place to settle instead. than just studying. Their awareness of favorable state policies, often at odds with the federal government’s reckless stance towards international students during the pandemic, demonstrates their surprisingly sophisticated appreciation of Australian governance structures.

“They understand federalism,” said Anna Boucher, a migration expert at the University of Sydney. “They understand that not everything can rest with the federal government. Australia is the subject of a lot of research, in ways we would not have anticipated. “

Dr Boucher said the interest of potential students in elementary schools suggested that some 20-year-old Chinese choose places to study based on the services available for their future offspring. ” They think, [my] the children will go to a large private school in [the Sydney suburb of] Hurstville. They will do very well and make the family proud. There is this kind of intergenerational thinking going on.

The “counterintuitive†results come from a machine-learning analysis of millions of interactions with open-access websites, blogs and social media in Mandarin. Dr Boucher has partnered with market research firm Maven Data to measure the intensity of engagement with Australian higher education, browsing petabytes of data in November 2020 and again in August 2021.

Maven chief executive Elisa Choy, a guest speaker in Sydney, said the approach provided access to large samples and – unlike surveys or focus groups – took into account people’s emotions rather than their opinions or intentions. declared.

The technique had been used to accurately predict the results of “real world market scenarios” of the winners of the television shows. The voice and Chef to the main results of battlefield states in the 2020 US presidential election. “It’s about having the right data and the right method to answer the right questions,” Ms. Choy said. “People usually don’t say what they really mean. “

The analysis suggests that students are captivated by “basic needs” such as security and jobs, regardless of Beijing’s denunciation of Australian policies and race relations. “When we shape how we revive the industry, knowing what matters to people at that level is far more important than the argy-bargy we hear in the news,†Ms. Choy said.

“Really, it’s up to the government to establish a policy to reopen the doors because the demand is there. If that doesn’t happen, that’s a shame, because there is generally a great feeling towards Australia. “

Dr Boucher said the results suggested university advertising may focus more on things like Australia’s beauty, lifestyle and natural environment. “Maybe the world ranking is not the most important thing,†she said.

She said a similar analysis of Indian students revealed a “very nuanced” understanding of racism in Australia, including a degree of tolerance. “As an Anglo-Celtic, I don’t understand what it’s like to live with racism on a daily basis. Maybe at some level you just learn to accept it or even have conflicting opinions about it.

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