Australia to host an extra 117,000 international students by 2020

AUSTRALIA’S international student population could grow by as much as 30 per cent in the next seven years, according to a new report outlining a strategic plan for the international education sector. Sandra Qian reports. 

A new report on international education has forecast strong growth for the sector.

Australia’s international student population could grow by as much as 30 percent in the next seven years.

Prepared by the International Education Advisory Council, the report was written to advise the Federal Government’s five year strategy for international education, which is currently being developed.

Launched on February 27 by the Minister for Tertiary Education, the report Australia – Educating Globally indicates Australia can expect to host an additional 117,000 international students by 2020.

While recognising Australia’s strong performance as a study destination, the report calls for national leadership in “a time of global challenge”.

It warns that Australia should be ready to face a changing global future, marked by issues such as rising costs, a growing marketplace of competitors, the high value of the Australian dollar and the demands of a new generation of students.

The report sets forth 35 recommendations to address seven key challenges facing the sector including:

  • Coordination;
  • Quality;
  • A positive student experience;
  • Partnerships;
  • Ensuring the integrity of Australia’s student visa program;
  • Data analysis and research in international education;
  • Competition;
  • Promotion; and
  • Marketing

President of the Council of International Students Australia Aleem Nizari has welcomed the recommendations for ensuring the sustainability and quality of the international education sector.

“Parallel with the new competition in the industry and the rise of the Australian dollar, positive student experience is essential in promoting Australia as a destination for international education with focus on quality of education and experience,” Mr Nizari said.

A positive student experience is noted in the report as one of the major incentives for international students choosing to study in Australia.

Drawing from the findings of the 2012 Australian International Student Survey, the report stated that a vast majority of international students were satisfied with their living experience in Australia.

However, there was concern put across by some international students of the difficulties in accessing the same benefits and services available to local students. Some students also noted a disparity between the state, territory and community jurisdictions in the provision of support services.

However, there was concern put across by some international students of the difficulties in accessing the same benefits and services available to local students. Some students also noted a disparity between the state, territory and community jurisdictions in the provision of support services.

Notably, the report recommends ensuring international students have access to travel concessions on public transport, appropriate treatment in public hospitals and opportunities to gain work experience during and after their studies.

A number of suggestions were also put forth to address major long-term issues concerning student welfare and engagement.

One of the points raised the importance of promoting strong communication skills among students.

In a bid to prepare international students for work experience and employment opportunities, the report suggested that education providers should set up processes to assist students in becoming proficient in English.

The  International Education Advisory Council has also proposed setting up a new Ministerial Coordinating Council on International Education (MCCIE) that would “provide leadership for the sector to identify and best respond to new challenges”.

According to the report, the MCCIE would implement the Government’s five year strategy and provide high-level strategic direction, in addition to representing the views from across the public and private sectors.

The Minister for Tertiary Education Chris Bowen said the Government welcomed the report and indicated he expects to accept many of its recommendations.

What do you think the Australian Government needs to do to attract more international students? Tell us in the comments section below.

1 comment on this postSubmit yours
  1. At a national and state level cooperate on marketing Australia online (everywhere) with a +ve message re. visas, immigration etc.

    Onshore focus upon the student experience and use that to inform quality and marketing.

    Regular feedback from students, acting upon issues, making improvements and their word of mouth recommendation, often online, is the most effective way of communicating their message.

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