Dr. Rachel Burke
University of Newcastle
The Australian International Student Program was founded in 1950 as a cornerstone of the government's humanitarian efforts in post-war Asia. In the era of the White Australia Policy, the establishment of a program to enable Asian student migration, albeit on a temporary basis, attracted strong print media attention. Whilst government policy designated that international students were to return home on the completion of their studies in order to assist with economic development in Asia, analysis of Australian newspaper texts during the 1950-1973 period reveals that–at least within the confines of the media–this requirement was the source of some debate. Support for the policy co-exists within the media alongside calls for international students to have the opportunity to remain in the country following graduation both as expatriates undergoing workplace training and as potential ‘Australians’. As such, I argue that media discussion of the requirement for students to return home after graduation not only provided a forum for the contestation of the broader issue of Australian immigration policy, but also facilitated the articulation of beliefs regarding Australian ‘national identity’.