We gave her everything we owned just to sit at her table
Just a smile would lighten everything*
– John Lennon
In 2009 Prime Minister Rudd sent Office of National Assessments (ONA) chief, Peter Varghese, on a sensitive mission. Australia’s billion dollar foreign student market was under threat due to spate of attacks on Indian students in Melbourne and Sydney. More than 80,000 Indians are were then studying in Australia.
Varghese’s job was to repair damage done by these attacks in the eyes of the Indian government. To make matters worse Victorian police sent around inflammatory emails about tasing Indian students encouraging them to leave the country.
Rudd’s motive was that Indian students are a sacred cash cow to Australian Universities. Rudd did not wish to damage Australia’s International competitiveness in the Education industry especially in India and China.
Ten years on, retired High Commissioner to India and Bhutan, Peter Varghese, is now Chancellor of the University of Queensland. Peter Varghese and his Vice Chancellor, Peter Hoj, are wanting to protect UQ’s international competitiveness by spending $300M on a new student complex to attract high fee paying students from India and China, by accepting $40M from Dow Chemicals former CEO and taking big bucks from the racist Ramsay Centre.
At a forum at UQ on Monday 25 Feb 2019 Priya De (UQU student rep) gave her take on the VCs steps to make more money for UQ.
Ironically it was Peter Varghese’s brother, Frank when he was a fifth year medical student, who made one of the best speeches I’ve heard against apartheid. That was in the Great Court at the University of Queensland during a student and staff strike protesting the Springbok Rugby tour in July 1971.
* John Lennon originally said this sarcastically about the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.