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Universities must learn

WA NEEDS to rebrand itself as a knowledge hub if it wants to compete with the rest of the world for education services, according to a report by the WA Technology and Industry Advisory Council.

The report, Export of WA Education & Training: Con-straints and Opportunities found the reason WA was falling behind other states was because the universities had been too cons-ervative in their expansion strategy.

It said the education and training sector could be a significant “recession-proof” contributor to WA’s economy each year.

In 1998, the sector generated about $400 million in export earnings and within five years could be worth double that if average growth rates continued.

Yet although the growth in earnings has been strong, WA’s growth has failed to keep up with the national growth and the State’s share of earnings has fallen from 14 per cent to 12.5 per cent between 1994 and 1999, according to the report.

Another report released this week by IDP Education Australia – a major export development and marketing company for education and that works with Australia’s 39 universities to attract international students – showed the number of foreign students studying at Australian university has risen more than 25 per cent to 125,552 students.

IDP Education Australia executive director Lindy Hyam said international students made up 16.5 per cent of students.

The study found that the greatest increase in overseas students came from Central and South America followed by Europe, US, India and China.

The globalisation of markets offered a unique opportunity for WA the Export of WA report said “but requires the State to undergo a significant shift to prepare itself to harness the new opportunities.

“Removing obstacles to expanding any export market should be a major consideration for government, particularly when governments themselves create these obstacles,” it said.

“WA’s biggest disadvantages in global markets relates to its lack of international profile – whether in tourism, education or any other field.”

The report said WA needed to develop, brand and promote Perth as a “knowledge hub”.

“This concept can fit well with the Premier’s vision of Perth as a hi-tech centre with world-class strengths in areas such as mineral value-adding, environmental tech-nology, oil and gas research and development or medical research,” the report said.

The report said WA could either continue to brand itself largely as a rural, primary resources and environmental wilderness destination (the “Elle” image), or it could combine it with a second quality brand such as sophisticated Perth – a hi-tech city/education centre.

“To ignore the latter brand and the serious planning and investment commitments it entails, is to waste an enormous opportunity to leverage current assets into a more exciting, smarter and more prosperous, jobs rich future,” it said.

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Students

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

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