May 14, 2014

A survey has found that safety and Australia’s attitude toward international students is still a concern for people considering studying here, prompting calls for the Federal Government to do more to change perception of prospective international students of Australia’s welcomeness.

The study of more than 18,000 students from 195 countries, conducted by Hobsons, found one-in-five (19%) participants said safety was a reason not to study in Australia. A quarter (25%) said Australia’s attitude towards international students was a reason not to study here.

The survey found that a destination country’s attitude to international students is the third most important factor when choosing a university, behind quality of education and international recognition of qualifications.

Hobson’s APAC Managing Director, David Harrington said Australia’s tough stance on immigration could be impacting on how students perceive Australia.

“The students surveyed said they want a place which is safe and feels like home and where people are friendly to them, yet the media surrounding Australia’s tough stance on asylum seekers often paints us as a nation which doesn’t welcome people from other countries.

“We know Australia is a safe and welcoming of all cultures, but this is not how we are perceived overseas.”
Mr Harrington said Australia needs a policy for international students.

“The Federal Government must establish a cross-committee including representatives of education, trade, foreign affairs and other relevant departments to help get the message across that Australia welcomes international students and has the appropriate measures in place to protect them.

He said Australia cannot afford to jeopardise the contribution international students make to the economy.

“In 2012, international students paid $7 billion in fees and $7.5 billion on goods and services1. International students account for twenty per cent (20%) of the student population in Australia, and it is the enhanced fees they are paying which allow our tertiary institutions to prosper.

“Without the revenue from international students, our tertiary institutions would be forced to cut student numbers and dramatically slash research, and Australia will miss out on the economic and cultural contribution that international students make,” Mr Harrington said.

While at present Australia is in a good position with international student numbers we cannot afford to be complacent as the USA have started to get their act together in attracting and recruiting from international markets.

Teaching Quality - International Student Marketing and Recrutiment will be released in May 2014. To receive a copy of this report, please click here.

1 Stephen Connelly and Alan Olsen `Education as an Export for Australia: Green Shoots, First Swallows, but Not Quite out of the Woods Yet, AIEC, 2013


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