International education becomes crucial Australian export earner

Revenue from international students in Australian educational institutions has now become the nation's third largest 'export' earner, overtaking natural gas and only behind coal and iron ore.

Sydney, Australia
Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that revenue from overseas students grew by more than $2 billion in 2015, making international education Australia's third largest export, contributing $19.65bn to the economy.PIE News, the journal of Professionals in International Education, reports that the 11.5 per cent growth in spending by international students, which includes tuition fees, accommodation and living expenses, was spurred on by a 13 per cent rise in education-related travel in 2015 compared to the previous year.Richard Colbeck, Australia's Minister for Tourism and International Education, said, "These latest figures confirm the growing importance of international education in the context of Australia's 21st century knowledge economy."International education makes an exceptional contribution to Australian society, culture, international standing, and economic prosperity and it provides opportunities for people to experience different countries, languages and cultures."More than 650,000 international students studied in Australia in 2015, according to the Department of Education and Training show, up from 590,000 in 2014, a year in which the export earnings rose by 14 per cent.Phil Honeywood, executive director of the International Education Association of Australia, told PIE News that the sector must not now become complacent in assuming that these levels of growth would continue, given increasing competition from other destination countries.Rather, he said, the figures should present an opportunity for educationists to show government that international education was worth investing in."If such figures serve to remind the Australian political and wider community that international education is increasingly important, then, hopefully, it will lead to better resourcing of student service delivery," he said."There is still much policy implementation required in the provision of employability opportunities, quality and affordable student accommodation and a stronger education agent quality assurance system. In all of this, Australia still needs to do far more to facilitate migration outcomes for highly skilled graduates."Though the growth is positive for Australia, Mr Honeywood cautioned against educationists using export earnings as the sole metric for success, saying that the new figures have "both good and bad connotations"."No international student wants to be viewed as a commodity and Australia has sometimes been too quick in the past to make a great deal out of such figures," he said.In his statement, Mr Colbeck reiterated the government's commitment to support the sector, pointing to the development of a national strategy for international education announced last year."As Australia transitions from a resources based economy, to one supported by the services industries, the government will be working hard to ensure our existing successful and competitive services exports are well supported for future growth," he said.For essential information about all aspects of state and independent education, universities, colleges and schools in the UK and across the globe, don't miss Re:locate's Guide to International Education & Schools. Click here for more details and to reserve your copy.

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