Australia launches probe into foreign interference in universities

The move comes after recent clashes at several universities between supporters of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement and those supporting China's communist government.
The move comes after recent clashes at several universities between supporters of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement and those supporting China's communist government.PHOTO: DPA

SYDNEY (DPA) - The Australian government launched an investigation into foreign interference in universities on Wednesday (Aug 28) after on-campus clashes between pro-democracy students and supporters of the Chinese government.

Education Minister Dan Tehan announced the creation of a new task force of security agencies, government and universities to examine foreign interference in Australia's education sector.

Mr Tehan said in a televised speech to the National Press Club in Canberra that the task force would also assess cyber security and prevent the theft of research and intellectual property.

The move comes after recent clashes at several universities between supporters of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement and those supporting China's communist government.

China has also been linked to a data hack at the Australian National University in Canberra which accessed personal details of staff and students going back 19 years.

"One of the things that the task force will be doing... (is) looking at security on our university campuses, to make sure that students can go about their business freely, and be able to express their views freely," Mr Tehan said.

The task force will ensure that university collaboration with foreign entities in research is transparent and doesn't harm Australia's interests.

 

International students make up a quarter of all students at Australian universities, with a third of them from China.