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Benefits of International Students and Education for Australia

International students: in our best interests. International education is the third-largest earner of international export revenue for Australia, generating more than $12 billion per annum, trailing only the coal and iron ore extraction industries, and eclipsing tourism.

Australia’s share of the international education market is many times larger than would be expected for a country that produces only 1.2 per cent of the world’s GDP. Curiously, however, instead of being a case for great national pride, it’s not universally appreciated.

Education is a high value-add service industry that leverages Australia’s intellectual resources. Australia outperforms many of its peers, enrolling more than 7 per cent of the world’s international students, despite having less than 1 per cent of the world’s population. However, the influx of international students into our universities is not perceived across the community as an unqualified good. Why is this outstanding success story not always applauded?

The benefits of inbound international students into our universities are easy to identify. To start with, international university education generates well-paid employment for highly qualified people in Australia.

Second, the benefits of inbound international education spill over into other sectors of the economy.

Third, international students foster long-term goodwill and international understanding between Australia and the countries from which students originate.

Fourth, higher education has all the attributes of a luxury product, where brand equity associated with university names carries substantial prestige and opportunities for premium pricing.

Finally, almost all of the economic benefits are retained in Australia and reinvested in our education and research capability….

Professor Alec Cameron is the inaugural Dean of the Australian School of Business at The University of New South Wales.

Comments on ABC’s The Drum re. International students: in our best interests.

Interesting why industry leaders only now after 20 years are trying to persuade Australians of the benefits? Till now the industry, especially TAFE and universities, have been avoiding scrutiny of their international activities for good reason i.e. failed offshore ventures, rorting of travel under the guise of marketing, lack of marketing strategy e.g. evaluating student experience and welfare etc.

One major point the writer does not make is that demographics i.e. ageing populations in western world requires higher levels of state resources to be directed to health and pensions, but without raising taxes, which will be compounded further by “baby boomers” starting to retire…..

Further, coincides with media, politicians and anti immigration or neo white Australia protagonists stirring up negative sentiment amongst Australians suggesting we are being invaded from the north….

If all international students were from Europe, Britain and North America it would probably not even be an issue…..

However, with new enrolments or commencements plummeting it will mean over the next few years higher domestic fees for TAFE and university, job losses, less tourism etc. but on the plus side property prices will stagnate and may decline, as appears to be happening in Melbourne right now.


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