WITH the growing credibility of online qualifications, will international students stop coming to Australia if the same degree can be obtained in their home country? Hayden Waugh investigates.
ONLINE education is going to test the “brand strength and agility” of Australian education providers, according to an analysis of strategic trends of the nation’s $15 billion international education industry.
The pro bono analysis, conducted by The Boston Consulting Group for the International Education Advisory Committee (IEAC) in February this year, showed Australia had the potential to access a whole new market through online education.
The report however, also highlighted the possibility that web-based learning could jeopardise traditional on-campus international student enrolments.
According to the report, it’s the students above the age of 26, who account for some 43 per cent of enrolments, that would be most enticed by online study in the fields of management and commerce, IT, education, nursing, health (with medicine as an exception) and social sciences.
Some of the pull factors include the growing credibility of online qualifications and the prospect of lower tuition fees and savings on airfares and the associated costs of living overseas.
A survey of international students in Melbourne on their views of online education were mixed.
RMIT University student from China, Howard Han, said the strong Aussie dollar made online education an attractive and more affordable alternative to on-campus study.
But he believed online education could be complemented by short exchange programs, “because travelling to another country is culturally different”.
In addition to financial savings, other students Meld spoke to said they would enjoy the ‘anytime, anywhere study’ model of online education.
Students who valued on-campus study however, believe the overseas experiences was just as, if not more important than obtaining an Australian degree.
Among them, was 17-year-old Indonesian student Audrey Margareth.
“No, I wouldn’t study online. I’ve come here to experience the culture – it’s very different from home”, she said.
For RMIT University engineering student Yan Myo Kyaw, it was about making the transition to becoming a young adult.
“If I studied back home it would be easier, but here I have more independence”, he said.
Would you prefer online study to traditional overseas education? Let us know in the comments below.