Failing to be(come) ‘ideal’
Chapter 2 traces how the creation of a facilitated pathway to permanent migration in Australia for graduated international students in 2001 was over-determined by two concomitant characterisations of international students: ‘Asian’ and ‘ideal’. The first section shows how the ‘Asian’ designation in education discourses has functioned as a technology of ‘differential’ inclusion – that is, an injunction to labour towards whiteness to become like domestic students. The second section demonstrates how the ‘ideal’ designation in migration discourses has worked as a technology of cultural augmentation – that is, as an injunction to accumulate nationally sanctioned cultural capital to become like Australians. The last section undertakes a close reading of the first governmental review of international students’ performance as skilled migrants in Australia. It argues that this review construed international students’ alleged failure to be ‘ideal’ as a breach of the most important condition of their permanent inclusion in the nation: assimilation. Additionally, this chapter contests that the Australian border is more elastic for international students than other migrant categories by unravelling the existence of a double regime of governance: one that regulates international students as consumers of educational services, the other as prospective permanent migrants.