23/02/2015 - 05:43

Perth primed as China educator

23/02/2015 - 05:43

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Western Australia is ideally located to capitalise on the booming export of education to China, but it needs to be at the forefront of government policy in the coming years, according to the principal of the state’s largest independent school.

Perth primed as China educator
EXPORT: Tony George says the education sector is fast becoming more globalised. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Western Australia is ideally located to capitalise on the booming export of education to China, but it needs to be at the forefront of government policy in the coming years, according to the principal of the state’s largest independent school.

St Stephen's School principal Tony George said research continued to show that countries such as China were set to experience a rising middle class and a demand for high-quality education that WA, in particular, was well placed to supply.

Ranked first by size in BNiQ, St Stephen’s has more students undertaking vocational education and training courses than any other school in WA.

“When you think globally, particularly within our own end of the Indian Ocean, that’s a region of only a quarter of the world’s circumference, yet it contains two thirds of the world’s population,” Mr George told Business News.

“Perth is the only Western city in that region; rather than being the most isolated city in the world, I think it’s probably the most strategically placed.” Last financial year, the education industry brought in more than $16.3 billion nationally and was the third largest of Australia’s goods and services exports, behind iron ore and coal, according to ABS trade data.

Mr George said Australia should focus on developing an in-country education model to support services to China.

“If we’re not an integral part of the value-added chain in those economies, we’re going to be left out as largely irrelevant,” he said.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce Beijing released a position paper last December detailing recommendations to further develop Australia-China links in vocational education and training and higher education in the post-free trade agreement environment.

Mr George said the chamber also was aiming to use high-value-added products and services within the education sector, with the potential for low volumes of supply to be very lucrative.

He said despite the benefits of resources exports having years to run, government and industry needed to use this time to shift into a knowledge economy.

“Unless we start making those deliberate steps now, we will be irrelevant in 50 years’ time,” Mr George told Business News. 

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