University of Technology Sydney, whose Dr. Chau Chak Wing building is pictured here, is bucking a trend of decreasing student enrollments from China.

For Australia’s tertiary education sector, after years of coasting on the back of ever increasing demand from Asia – most especially, China which now controls a whopping 30% of the $28 billion a year market – it seems that the time may be nigh for paying the piper.

After a string of controversies about Chinese government interference in Australia’s universities, the higher education sector is being hit by unprecedented second punch -- the first decline in Chinese student enrollments since Australia’s pioneering efforts in the international student market exploded two decades ago.