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The impact of international students on measured learning and standards in Australian higher education


  • Foster, Gigi


International students, who are also often from non-English language speaking backgrounds (NESB students), are an important source of revenue for Australian universities. Yet little large-scale evidence exists about their performance once they arrive. Do these students perform worse than other students in Australian undergraduate classrooms? What happens to other students’ performance when these students are added to classrooms? I provide new empirical evidence on these questions using recent administrative panel data from the business schools of two Australian Technology Network universities. Results show strong and highly statistically significant main effects and spillover effects, raising concerns about the integration of international NESB students into the Australian tertiary environment.

Suggested Citation

  • Foster, Gigi, 2012. "The impact of international students on measured learning and standards in Australian higher education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 587-600.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:31:y:2012:i:5:p:587-600 DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2012.03.003

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gordon Winston & David Zimmerman, 2004. "Peer Effects in Higher Education," NBER Chapters,in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 395-424 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. George J. Borjas, 2000. "Foreign-Born Teaching Assistants and the Academic Performance of Undergraduates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 355-359, May.
    3. van Ewijk, Reyn, 2011. "Same work, lower grade? Student ethnicity and teachers' subjective assessments," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1045-1058, October.
    4. Foster, Gigi & Frijters, Paul, 2010. "Students' beliefs about peer effects," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 108(3), pages 260-263, September.
    5. Jonathan Guryan, 2004. "Desegregation and Black Dropout Rates," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 919-943, September.
    6. Jensen, Peter & Rasmussen, Astrid Würtz, 2011. "The effect of immigrant concentration in schools on native and immigrant children's reading and math skills," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1503-1515.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kevin Pugh & Gigi Foster, 2014. "Australia's National School Data and the ‘Big Data’ Revolution in Education Economics," Australian Economic Review, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, vol. 47(2), pages 258-268, June.

    More about this item


    Educational economics; Higher education; Spillovers; International students; Australia;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination


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