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Monash vice-chancellor retires on a sour note -

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Monash vice-chancellor retires on a sour note

Rachael Brown reported this story on Wednesday, July 1, 2009 12:26:00

PETER CAVE: Retiring Monash University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard Larkins, is disappointed
that his six-year post has been marred in its final months by the controversy surrounding the
attacks on Indian students.

Professor Larkins says it's a local and international media beat-up that has left the $15 billion
that Australia earns from foreign students, vulnerable.

He says that Australian universities are already losing their international footing, unable to
match the technological capabilities of Asian university campuses.

Professor Larkins spoke to Rachael Brown.

RACHAEL BROWN: Professor Larkins, international student safety will arguably be one of the first
priorities of your successor, University College London's Edward Byrne. How do you think
universities should be responding to the recent attacks?

RICHARD LARKINS: It's not a matter of responding to the recent attacks, it's a matter of
universities of high standing already being totally aware of the safety of their students and
having an extensive program in terms of giving them education when they come during orientation
week, about steps they should take, having very good security on campus - security guards, people
to escort students late at night and so on.

So I don't know that there's a huge amount more that we can do and in fact the attacks have not
been on campus, they've been off campus late at night.

RACHAEL BROWN: Do you think the coverage has been a beat up, either locally or internationally?

RICHARD LARKINS: There have certainly been incidents, and any incidents are totally regrettable, so
to that extent it's not a beat up.

But to the extent it's been made such an issue; these things happen in every country and there's
been perhaps an increase in number but it's something that has received an undue degree of

RACHAEL BROWN: Do you think there is an over dependence on foreign students which is a $15-billion
exporting industry?

RICHARD LARKINS: From the financial point of view there is an over dependence; the education of
international students in Australia is totally desirable for all sorts of reasons. But we do depend
too much on the income from those students to support the education of Australian students.

RACHAEL BROWN: The financial over dependence you speak of, is that coming at the expense of other
things like improving education standards?

RICHARD LARKINS: All universities could deliver so much more if there is more money available to
them, in other countries in our region more money is being provided, in Australia there has been
some changes in a recent budget which have been highly laudable, and which will make some

But those changes are mainly arresting the decline that's occurred over the last dozen years or so.

RACHAEL BROWN: Are they as competitive as they used to be? I understand you're concerned about the
lure of campuses in countries like China, Singapore and Korea because of their technological

RICHARD LARKINS: There's no question that there's a huge investment occurring in those countries,
and in other countries in our region in the campuses of the university and research facilities and
in the educational facilities.

And although Australian universities have done a superb job over the last couple of decades, we
have had a very much increase in student-staff ratio, we've fallen behind in terms of the state of
our facilities although the education investment fund has addressed some of the issues has by no
means gone far enough at this stage.

PETER CAVE: Retiring Monash University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard Larkins, speaking to
Rachael Brown.