The tainting of Australia's tertiary education sector by financial pressure has become systemic and endemic.
The revelations by Fairfax's Amy McNeilage and Lisa Visentin of a large and flagrant university course cheating operation, all transacted in Chinese, reopens the door to a problem that is pervasive and entrenched.
Financial pressure has compromised the standards, governance and ethics of Australia's universities and tertiary colleges.
On Tuesday, the day the Herald exposed the MyMaster cheating scheme in detail, a stream of frustrated university and college staff contacted the newspaper to complain about various cheating schemes.
This problem goes all the way to the university vice-chancellors.
It has been an open secret for years that universities protect struggling foreign students to protect the income stream they represent.
The tertiary-education sector has been operating double and triple standards for years.
It has been milking foreign students.
It has been protecting students with shoddy English skills. It has been graduating unqualified students.
It has tolerated a layer of dubious diploma factories, called colleges but operating at standards well below the universities, which exploit the international student market by graduating thousands with low-quality degrees.
Although Australia's layer of elite universities have continued to do well in international rankings, the entire sector is sitting on numerous seams of academic compromise.
Beyond the perennial human weakness for cutting corners, the pressure on students to survive is growing along with the cost of tertiary qualifications, now at historic highs and set to rise as the university sector is partially deregulated.
The internet has also made cheating easier than ever, prompting the universities to deploy anti-plagiarism counter-measures, using software such as Turnitin, which highlight passages in student's work that have been published elsewhere.
In the scheme exposed by the Herald, an essay-writing service called MyMaster guaranteed that the purchased work would be original and not detected by anti-plagiarism software.
Hundreds of people have used the scheme since it began operating 18 months ago, either by purchasing assignments or by writing them.
The owner of the Sydney-based company has claimed she employs about 100 essay writers.
Her website has generated fees from several hundred students at 10 different universities in three states, mostly in NSW.
"Do you worry about spending $3000 retaking tuition on a failing subject? Leave you worries to MyMaster and make your studies easier!" the website says, in Chinese.
This hints at the pressure that many foreign students feel, with 80 per cent of them coming from countries where English is not the first language.
Their fees are routinely double those charged for local students, or even more.
Thus the financial sacrifice made by the families of overseas students is generally higher.
This itself presents moral questions.
All countries charge foreign students more than locals but a chasm in the costs that student pays for exactly the same course raises a question of equity.
At a certain point, a large disparity in fees paid by locals and foreigners, crosses a line of fairness and becomes gouging.
An ethical line is also crossed when graduate students, tutors and part-time staff carry the load of many courses as universities seek to contain costs.
The pressure growing across the system is affecting all students, not just foreign students.
At dinner on Tuesday night I was sitting next to an Australian mother whose daughter is completing her first year at the University of Melbourne.
She estimated the direct cost of her daughter's degree, including fees and living expenses over four years, at $200,000.
About half of that will be financed by a HECS loan, which means the daughter will enter the workforce with $100,000 in debt. Not unusual.
Even at the less expensive end of the spectrum, TAFE colleges, the cost of an education is growing for young people of modest means who want to learn a trade.
The value of the international student market is $15 billion, Australia's fourth-largest export industry and bigger than any agricultural or financial export market.
This sits within the huge revenues and costs of the tertiary sector.
Financial pressure is building across the system as the cost of attaining tertiary qualifications is incrementally shifted from government to consumers.
This shift reflects the growing rate of participation in the tertiary sector, and the budget constraints imposed on government by higher welfare costs. The pressure has a life of its own, beyond policy.
Growing financial pressure changes the way people behave. It changes the way institutions behave. Sometimes they do not respond well. Expect to see more revelations about people gaming the system.