07/03/2018 - 14:52

WA loses ground in international student market

07/03/2018 - 14:52


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Western Australia’s market share for international students has plunged to 6.6 per cent after the state registered no growth in 2017 despite an extra 71,000 students heading to Australia from overseas.

WA loses ground in international student market
WA's share of international students is falling.

Western Australia’s market share for international students has plunged to 6.6 per cent after the state registered no growth in 2017 despite an extra 71,000 students heading to Australia from overseas.

WA had 41,274 international students in 2017, unchanged from 2016, while overall Australia recorded 13 per cent growth to 624,000 overseas students.

This meant WA's market share fell to 6.6 per cent from 7.4 per cent in 2016, when the state recorded a 7 per cent increase in international student numbers.

The latest data continues a long-term decline in WA's market share, falling from 9.9 per cent of enrolments in 2002 to 7.8 per cent in 2016.

The number of international students (41,274) is notably less than total enrolmenrs (about 55,000) as many international students enrol in multiple courses, however both data sets show a similar trend in market share.

While WA has competed reasonably well in the VET and language training sectors, the biggest fall has been in higher education, where WA's market share has tumbled from 11.2 per cent to about six per cent over the past decade.

Study Perth executive director Philip Payne said the figures were problematic.

“It’s not pretty reading for WA,” he said

“We’re well aware of the data and we take it very seriously and it’s a challenge for the whole sector.”  

International education has consistently been identified as a growth sector by successive WA governments, with senior ministers promoting the state as a destination for international students, including a recent trip to China by Premier Mark McGowan.

In addition the government recently appointed Navitas founder Rod Jones as chairman of Study Perth.

However, the amount of money spent on the marketing of WA to international students falls far short of the amount spent by other states.

Perth has also continued to suffer from its reputation as a high-cost city, which was a legacy of the mining construction boom.

“The government is serious about tackling this – that was indicated by the shift in international education into the department of jobs, tourism, science and innovation and with the shakeup of Study Perth,” Mr Payne said.

Mr Payne said Study Perth has recently conducted extensive research into international student movements and was working towards addressing two key issues.

“We need to do quite a bit of work on destination marketing because Perth is not as well-known as we would like or expect in the international education market,” he said

“We also need to do some work on the employability aspects of the offering to students.

“We want to assure students that they will have access to internships, industry mentors, work experience and good graduate outcomes.”

Federal minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham, who released the figures, said the national growth was a great success.

“International students are voting with their feet, making Australia the third most popular study destination in the world for tertiary students and the second most popular study destination for tertiary students from China and India," he said in a statement.

“Since 2014, we’ve seen 54 per cent growth in Chinese student numbers, 62 per cent growth from Brazil, 73 per cent from Colombia, 79 per cent from Sri Lanka, 48 per cent from India and even 113 per cent from Nepal.

“Australia’s schools, universities and training providers are amongst the best in the world and that’s being recognised by students from all over the globe.”

Minister Birmingham said student enrolments grew across all education sectors last year including by 15 per cent in higher education, 17 per cent in VET, 11 per cent in schools, three per cent in English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS), and 14 per cent in non-award courses.

“Our reputation abroad is in no small part because of how students see Australia as a safe and friendly place to live and study, with high-quality and welcoming campuses,” the minister said.

Mr Birmingham said international students were also delivering a big boost to the economy, with the ABS recently reporting Australia’s international education export sector was worth $30.9 billion in 2017.

“The benefits of international education flow through to sectors such as retail and tourism, supporting over 130,000 full time jobs across our major cities, and in key regional areas,” he said. 




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