Western Australia needs to sell itself better as a destination for international students, with the state’s share of foreign students studying in Australia plunging over the past 13 years, according to a new report.
A study by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre and the John Curtin Institute of Public Policy showed WA was failing to attract international students at the same rate as other states.
Between 2002 and 2015, international student enrolments at WA’s higher education institutions fell from 11.2 per cent to 6.8 per cent of the national share.
WA’s total share of international students, including those enrolled in vocational training, fell less sharply over the same period – from 9.9 per cent to 7.8 per cent.
The report also showed the total value of the state’s international education sector was $1.4 billion, but it makes up a lower share of WA’s service exports than any other state or territory, except for the NT.
BCEC director Alan Duncan said the state’s declining share of Australia’s international education market was due to a failure to capitalise on growth in student numbers from China.
“Our findings suggest ‘selling’ Perth and WA as a desirable study destination is an important priority in developing the state’s future international education strategy,” he said.
“The attractiveness of Western Australia as a study destination for international students could be enhanced with streamlined access to courses, and by enhancing the student experience in WA.
“This would serve both to attract students to the state and to create future cohorts of advocates for study in WA.”
Professor Duncan said there remained great potential to align WA closer with Asia to increase the market share of international students, with the state sharing a time zone with many countries and also being closer than cities on the east coast.
“The strength of the state’s labour market, especially the availability of future employment opportunities, is also a key driver of international student demand,” he said.