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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Australia's foreign student intake soars

From the Straits Times - some recession indeed. Just wanted to point out that the Chinese student enrollment in Australia has hit more than 120,000. Staggering figures, with India coming in second with a comparatively low 97,000. The article does highlight rather pertinently though, that with Australia's weakening dollar, it would make a lot of economic sense to study here.

Australia's foreign student intake soars
Roger Maynard, Australia Correspondent
28th Feb 2009
Straits Times Online

SYDNEY: A new record has been set for the number of overseas students in Australia.

Figures released by the government this week show that international enrolment in education institutions around the country last year grew by 120 per cent to 543,898, the biggest rise since 2002.

t is the first time that overseas enrolment has exceeded half a million in a calendar year.

Education Minister Julia Gillard revealed that Asian student numbers alone had jumped by 21.5 per cent, with the greatest number coming from China.

Chinese student enrolment totalled 127,276, followed by India with 97,035 and about 35,000 from South Korea.

The number of students enrolling from Singapore totalled 8,845, only marginally more than that the previous year.
Ms Gillard put the substantial overall rise in enrolment down to 'Australia's ongoing relationship with our Asian neighbours and the strong awareness of Australia as a quality education destination around the world'.

'International students contribute to our economic, social and educational development, bringing new
ideas and greater cross-cultural understanding to Australia,' she said.

'These connections have been vital in the expansion of business, diplomatic and academic links with the rest of the world over the past 50 years,' she pointed out.

International education was worth A$14.2 billion (S$14.1 billion) to the Australian economy last year. It was among the top income generators for the country alongside coal and iron ore export.

The big question now is the extent to which the global economic slowdown will make an impact on this year's enrolment numbers.

While Canberra has pledged to work closely with Australia's international education industry to ensure that interest is maintained next year and beyond, there have been signs of weakness in the Japanese and Korean markets.

'The impact of the global financial crisis on international student enrolment for this year will become clear in the coming weeks,' Ms Gillard admitted.

However, the overall outlook appeared strong.

'It's encouraging to hear a number of Australian education institutions reporting continued strong interest from international students wishing to study in Australia,' Ms Gillard said.

It is a view shared by the University of New South Wales in Sydney, which has an overseas student population of 23 per cent, the highest figure in the state.

International Pro-Vice-Chancellor Jennie Lang told The Straits Times there had been no dampening in demand. 'We are certainly not seeing any downward trend,' she said.

Indeed, there has been increased demand for places by students from the Middle East, Europe and the Americas, as well as Asia.

'While demand for places in business and engineering has been highest, most faculties are booming and the number of research students is on the rise,' she added.

The recent fall in the value of the Australian dollar is also likely to have a favourable impact on the education industry.

With many overseas students paying in US dollars, fees could work out to be about a third less in real terms.