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International student market diversity in Australia

Recent news articles about the need for Australian international education and providers to diversify away from an over dependence upon developed markets in Asia:

 

From The Fairfax Australia: ‘Education sector urged to lookto Latin America to turn around slump in international students.  Australia should look beyond the Asia-Pacific and lure more international students from Latin America and the Middle East to study at local campuses, according to a major federal government review of the $16 billion international education sector.

Half of Australia’s international enrolments come from just five countries – China, India, Vietnam, South Korea and Thailand. The government wants Australian higher education providers to expand into other regions where demand is booming while also building on their strengths in Asia.

The review of Australia’s biggest service export industry will also put pressure on the NSW and Victorian governments to reduce public transport prices for international students, who have complained of being treated like “cash cows” because they pay more for bus and train fares than local students.

International student enrolments grew over the past year but have dropped by 6.5 per cent since 2009. Overseas vocational education and training enrolments plummeted by 28 per cent over that period.’

 

From The Guardian: ‘Australia must look to world’s emerging markets for foreign students, report says.  Draft strategy encourages universities to focus on recruiting more students from Africa, Latin America and the Middle East, and improving students’ experiences.  Tertiary education institutions should look to emerging markets in Africa, Latin America and the Middle East in order to keep Australia in the top five destination countries for foreign students, a new government report said.

The federal education minister, Christopher Pyne, on Wednesday released the draft national strategy for international education. The paper encourages institutions to look beyond the Asia Pacific region for prospective students, and instead focus on the developing economies of the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

Currently, more than 50% of Australia’s foreign students come from five countries: China, India, Vietnam, South Korea and Thailand. Less than 1o% of Australia’s 500,000 foreign students are from Latin America.

 

The education sector, universities in particular, have been corporatised for decades to make up for income shortfalls required by govt. budgets favouring ageing populations.  There are commercial entities and activity on campus from stock exchange listed companies offering university preparation provision, through to employees offering student home stay services to international students (I doubt few if any have ever been to public tender).

Australia needs to diversify international student body away from Asia, but how?  Does the international education sector have the necessary skills and outlook to develop new markets versus short term promotion and selling?

Most international managers view marketing as expensive international travel plans and ‘one off’ international events, self promotion, distribution of English language marketing materials’ and ‘agent management’.

While almost the entire international student body is online (searching in native language), skills such as statistical analysis, web/digital/social media concepts, web analytics, course search optimisation, (on campus) student feedback and evaluation are not deemed to be important, while key performance indicators, i.e. sales, are outsourced to international education agents?

What is the role of international managers and have they like much of the administrative management class become redundant as they are precluded from having, developing or using related digital/web skills for student market information and analysis?  An issue of digital technology leadership?

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