The truth is that many of our top universities are only able to provide spots for locals because of overseas subsidies through full fee paying foreign students. No room for these subtleties at The Daily Telegraph, which simply delivers its daily  dose of terror, and another bold headline decrying further Muslim encroachment on our way of life and institutions.

HALAL food and prayer rooms should be adopted at all universities to help Muslim students meet their religious and educational obligations, a conference heard yesterday.

The religious needs of Muslim university students were addressed at an inaugural conference launched by the University of Western Sydney.

We live in a funny age when any concession for Muslims strikes fear into the hearts of the ordinary citizen and a simple thing like accommodating dietary and prayer needs becomes an attack on our most secular institutions.

Most universities around Australia have accepted the request of Muslim students to provide them with space that can be used for prayer during certain times. In fact, universities also provide different groups with club-space — it all depends on the needs of the students and the numbers for which such places cater.

In recent times, our universities, starved of funds as our federal government is no longer investing the needed resources into tertiary education, have had to appeal to the corporate sector and the overseas student market. We are required to market the safety and security of this nation and our “multiculturalism” along with our standard of tertiary education and we must prove that it is of an adequate standard internationally in order to attract foreign students. We do this because foreign students are full fee paying students unlike the locals whose education is somewhat subsidized. According to the SMH, our Unis were getting as much as $1.4 billion from foreign students. The Australian revealed last week that our universities are paying overseas agents as much as $64 million to recruit foreign students, the provision of a few rooms for them to pray in nothing special.

In order to continue to discount tertiary education for our own Aussie children, we, more than ever, must appeal to the overseas student market. Countries like China and Malaysia have consistently provided us with plenty of students. In recent years, oil-rich Arab countries have increasingly become the targets of proactive education-marketing campaigns in order to keep our universities financially afloat.

Australian universities have increasingly been seen as major competitors in the international education market. The SMH reported continuing increases in foreign student numbers despite a fear of rising costs. Our universities have been accused by University of Massachusetts associate provost Barbara Burn of “aggressively” recruiting foreign students because of what she refers to as government cuts in education funding.

No wonder our universities now dare to advertise the fact that they will cater for the needs of Muslim students. Let no one be mistaken about this. This is not an altruistic move on their part. It is a sound economic decision that is in complete harmony with their increased dependence on non-government funds to continue to operate.

Rather than raising fears about “Muslims”, we should be thanking these students for continuing to subsidise our tertiary education and allowing Australian children to get that degree that the government is no longer subsidizing to the same extent as in yesteryear.