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Australian International Education Marketing Report of Decline?

From the AFR on Australian international education marketing, immigration and competition.

Overseas Education Efforts Under Pressure. Australia faces a battle on several fronts to return its overseas education market to health. Much will depend on whether students in Asia and Indian sub-continental countries have confidence that an Australian education can be a stepping stone to gaining permanent residency.

Education enrolment data shows the number of students from overseas to undertake Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses, such as in hospitality and hairdressing, fell by 77 per cent between 2009-09 and 2011-12. In the same period, the number of overseas-sourced higher education and university students fell nearly 40 per cent.

Demographer Bob Birrell, director of Monash University’s Centre for Population and Urban Research, says the stock of students on overseas student visas was just over 300,000 in December 2010. But numbers had fallen to 242,200 by December 2012. Birrell says this figure masks the full extent of the offshore student market decline, which followed a tightening of Australia’s permanent residency rules in 2009, because many VET overseas students subsequently obtained onshore visas to switch from TAFE courses into higher education.

“The key change that has had a devastating impact on the overseas student market has been to remove those who complete vocational courses from access to permanent residency by the skills visa sub-classes,” he says. “It has caused a dramatic decline in the number of visas issued offshore for the VET sector.”

 Continues on regarding exchange rate, marketing and communications, and competition.’

Firstly, asking Bob Birrell to comment on anything “foreign” would be like asking AFL Australian Football League’s head Demetriou to comment on football or soccer…… the answer will not be positive, and possibly confusing….  Birrell’s background should preclude him having any input into international education, immigration, population growth and related matters, why?

More concerning is how mainstream media. both left and right, accept Birrell’s “research” and “commentary” at face value.  Hardly surprising to find Birrell cited often by commercial ‘red top’ tabloid current affairs television, Andrew Bolt and John Masanauskas at the Herald Sun, but alarming that media supposedly of the centre also quote Birrell verbatim.  This includes above from AFR, and also at Fairfax, Tim Colebatch of the Melbourne Age, Jon Faine at ABC radio and von Onselen at Macrobusiness who become unwitting propagators of social myths and stereotypes about immigrants (using inflated headline NOM figure) and deeming temporary residents such as students to be ‘immigrants’.

Marketing and communications of Australian international education is less than optimal, and the low profile is true, with much success being built round the original Colombo Plan (influencing the middle classes of Asia some generations ago).  However, what the writer fails to grasp in marketing of international education, is leveraging digital marketing, along with e.g. faculty relationships, research and training ventures, speaking more with on campus students etc..  

If senior marketing personnel in the industry do not understand digital marketing and/or prefer conventional distribution of marketing materials at one off education events, then things are not going to change very much.

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