IT IS difficult to understand the rationale behind Australia’s requirement that foreigners below the age of 18 must be accompanied by their parents or guardians if they wish to study Down Under.
While this policy may make sense to Canberra, it remains a mystery to those who wish to send their children to Australia for their education. Does this mean that the Australian government only welcomes foreigners to enrol themselves for tertiary education?
Canberra should realise that it is almost impossible for foreigners to accompany their children for their secondary education because they have other commitments.
If the mother should accompany her child to school, it would mean that the family would be broken up. Otherwise, the only alternative is for the family to emigrate to Australia.
So the requirement is not only impractical but does not make much sense to those intending to send their children for their secondary education. In any case, most parents will send their children to a boarding school, which will be able to look after them well.
This is a safer and better way as no parents would want their children to be exposed to any form of danger or mix with the wrong company living by themselves.
No responsible parent will leave the child to live by himself or herself in a new country where the culture and lifestyle is so different from that of their own.
Malaysians do not seem to have any such problems in sending their teenage children to other countries namely the United Kingdom where the parents are required to name a local guardian in case of any problem.
They are never expected to uproot themselves to go over there just to look after their children. All that they need to do is to place their children in a boarding school and to pick them up only during the school holidays.
In recent years, Australia has become a preferred location for Malaysians to send their children for their education. Education is big business in Australia and its educational institutions are widening their reach by setting up twinning programmes with Malaysian private colleges.
But there are much more benefits for the host country if the foreign students should commence their studies at an early age as this will be a big boost not only economically but will expose the foreigners to its way of life.
Those who have had their education at a lower level will certainly opt to continue with their university studies in Australia as they will be quite familiar with the way of life there by then.
Canberra should have sufficient confidence that Malaysian parents who send their children to attend secondary schools are even more anxious that their loved ones will not get into trouble by mixing with the wrong company.
Canberra can always insist that foreigners under 18 should enrol themselves in a boarding school where they can be better supervised by full-time staff during term time.
This will ensure that they will not get into any mischief because their parents or guardians are not present physically to look after their welfare. Unless of course the government has no confidence in their boarding schools to perform this task.
Foreign governments should encourage and not discourage others from studying in their private schools, as this is a very useful and beneficial exchange and strengthens people-to-people ties with nationals from other countries.