Educators service a growing market

Services industries are exerting a growing influence on Australia’s export figures, as Gary Kleyn reports.

MANY of the world’s major trading nations consider Australia a primary producer, a provider of unprocessed foodstuffs and resources. And, although rural and mining exports still contribute significantly to our trade figures, the days of riding on the sheep’s back have been left behind.

Increasingly it is the service industries, and in particular education providers, that are playing a vital role in the export equation.

As the WA Business News Book of Lists 2003 list of exporters attests, education service providers in WA have continued their rise to the top echelon of WA exporters.

While Curtin University appears the clear market leader in 22nd spot overall, with export revenue of $96.5 million in 2001-02, a secondary group of educators is making significant advances in providing education to international students.

Of the other major players the University of WA climbed seven spots in 2001-02 to be ranked the 45th largest WA exporter, with export revenue of  $22 million. Edith Cowan had $19 million in exports during the year while Murdoch enjoyed export revenue of $15.4 million.

But the stand-out performers are the State Government-backed TAFE International and Phoenix English Language Academy.

TAFE International jumped nine spots from 70th largest to 61st largest WA exporter with export revenue of $12 million.

Phoenix English Language Academy, which two years ago was placed at 100, has lifted its position almost 40 spots to 64th largest WA exporter on revenue of $11.2 million.

The performance of Phoenix was recognised recently by the International Business Council when the academy won the Certificate of Excellence award. Phoenix was also named as the 75th fastest growing Australian company by Business Review Weekly.

The company, which is registered as Keyseq Pty Ltd, is owned by Brain and Robynne Walsh and Les Scannell. It was also awarded the 2002 WA Education Export Award late last year.

Phoenix’s export income grew by 16 per cent in 1999-2000, 51 per cent in 2000-01, and 31 per cent in 2001-02. It recruits houses and administers more than 1,500 students annually.

Milner International College of English, which has been operating since 1984 and employees 25 people, had export revenue of $5 million in 2001-02, which lifted its ranking from 94th position to 80th last financial year.

These companies are all vying for a greater slice in the eduction sector. Estimates put the contribution of international students at more than $1 billion annually in WA. About 180,000 students are enrolled in Australian institutions, with WA institutions having 18,000 on their books at any one time.

Perth Education City director John Yudell said a lot of work still had to be done, particularly by the WA Government, to ensure WA stayed on the radar as an education provider.

There are an estimated 1.5 million international students in an industry worth approximately $3 trillion a year worldwide. Within the next 20 years the numbers are expected to increase five-fold.

While educating overseas students in Perth remains the greatest source of export income for WA’s edu-cation providers, in the past few years there has been an increasing drive to take our expertise to the market.

TAFE International, with the backing and resources of the WA Government and government ministers, has been promoting itself in areas such as the Middle East and China.

Training Minister John Kobelke led a delegation to China in November last year. He came back armed with an agreement between Huijia College and Central TAFE to create a joint faculty of art and design.

Axiss Australia, the Federal Government agency charged with promoting Australia as a global financial service centre, also initiated an education mission to China in November last year. It received support in this endeavour from the Australian Financial Services Training Alliance and assistance from Austrade, CPA Australia, The National Insurance Brokers Association, the Securities Institute and ASIC.

Across the globe, TAFE International signed a $50 million contract to supply training to the Gulf state of Qatar.

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6th-Australian Institute of Management WA20,000
7th-Murdoch University16,584
8th-South Regional TAFE10,549
9th-Central Regional TAFE10,000
10th-The University of Notre Dame Australia6,708
47 tertiary education & training providers ranked by total number of students in WA

Number of Employees

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