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January 2012 issue

Contents
News
News Round Up
Inside the industry
Advisor Survey
Secondary Focus 1
Secondary Focus 2
Tertiary Focus 1
Tertiary Focus 2
Vocational Focus
Direction
Special Report
Course Guide
Spotlight
Destination
CityFocus
Market Analysis
Grapevine

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Market report Australia

The high Australian dollar and visa issues slowed international enrol in higher education, but the Knight Report has universities feeling optimistic again, writes Matthew Knott.

While a number of headlines about falling international student numbers in Australia have emerged over the past two years, it has been noticeable that the higher education sector remained relatively resilient. Donna Cook at Australian Catholic University believes this is due to the enduring quality of Australia’s education and the country’s broad appeal. “Higher education courses in Australia provide students with access to world class education that is learner-centred. Australia is a multicultural society, so students are able to gain an international education, developing an understanding of and contacts with people from many different cultures.”

Nonetheless, the sector has faced some tough challenges. The strong Australian dollar is only part of the story, according to Dr Glenn Withers, CEO of Universities Australia, the peak body that represents the country’s 39 universities. “The recent changes to visa and migration policy, increased competition from countries such as the USA and the UK, along with the unfortunate reputational damage the sector suffered in 2010 have all contributed to a significant downturn in student commencements.” Stricter student visa regulations were introduced at the beginning of June 2010, while negative publicity relating to attacks on Indian students also impacted on a key market.

Recently released figures from Australian government agency, DEEWR, showed year-to-date enrolments in September 2011 for international students in higher education rose by 0.8 per cent, which remains largely consistent with 2009 levels. To put the figures in context, the Elicos and VET sectors were both showing a 17 per cent decline. However, the number of commencements dropped 3.1 per cent, meaning the number of new students in the system declined. Withers cautions that the hit taken by the other sectors has not yet been felt by universities. “The downturn has been worse for the other international education sectors, for instance English language providers, and given that is a source of around 60 per cent of our international students this will have a flow on effect to universities in late 2011-2012.”

New Immigration Department data on student visa applications does show encouraging signs of recovery from India. Third quarter figures indicated an increase of 4,000 applications, with a 150 per cent increase in offshore applications. Swinburne University has already reported a tentative increase in undergraduate and postgraduate student numbers from India. However, Alison Owens of the International Research Centre at Central Queensland University, says that universities have successfully diversified during the last few years, insulating themselves against large declines from a single market. “New groups are emerging, for example from South America and eastern Europe. That’s precisely the kind of trend we’re looking for. The international education industry has matured.” Cook concurs with this view, “The trend we find most obvious is the increase in greater student diversity.”

Universities were also major beneficiaries of the recent Knight Review into the student visa programme. Important facets of the review, which has been accepted by the government, are that all applicants to a university will be treated as the lowest-risk Assessment Level 1, regardless of nationality. The level of maintenance funds that students need to deposit in a government-sanctioned bank account has been substantially reduced – as much as AUS$36,000 (US$37,260) for students from China and India. Furthermore, all graduates of an Australian Bachelor degree will receive two years post-study work rights, rising to four years for a PhD graduate (see box).

Regardless of the review, Australian universities are keen demonstrate that they have been striving to improve the attractiveness of the country as a higher education destination. Universities Australia has embarked upon a benchmarking survey to monitor the student experience. The first results of the International Student Barometer were released in 2011 and the survey of 36,308 international students showed that 86 per cent were satisfied. Withers welcoms the results, but adds “there is no room for complacency and still room for ongoing improvement”. The group’s members are implementing an action plan to ensure that student expectations in areas such as affordable accommodation, safety and cross-cultural communication are met.

Universities have also been innovating in course offerings, as Cook reports. “We are absolutely actively seeking to recruit more international students, primarily through developing courses that suit the needs of students. We have just designed a course – English for the Workplace – that aims to make students job ready and enhance their employability for jobs both in Australia and in their home countries,” she explains.


Response to the Knight Review

The response from the university sector to the Knight Review has been largely positive. Professor Paul Greenfield, Chair of the Group of Eight coalition of leading universities, says, “The review has recognised that Australia’s universities are high quality, low risk providers, and changes to the risk framework send a clear message that Australian education providers are responsible for ensuring they uphold quality.” For Universities Australia CEO, Dr Glenn Withers, “The Knight Review has been a key initiative in addressing many of the issues which have produced the current decline in international student enrolments.” Withers is particulary optimistic about changes to work rights and visa applications. “The extension of graduate work visas beyond 18 months and the streamlining of visa processing arrangements together realise the government’s intent to put quality education at the forefront of the visa system. Overseas students are very clear that a work period in Australia pays off handsomely in employment when they return home...We anticipate international student enrolments will increase from mid-2012 as the flow on effects from the Knight Review are felt,” Withers adds.

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Study Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.

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ASSOCIATIONS/ GROUPS
Feltom Malta  
Groupement FLE  
International House World Organisation  
MEI Ireland  
Perth Education City  
Study Gold Coast  

AUSTRALIA
Perth Education City  
Study Gold Coast  

CANADA
Braemar College  
Greater Victoria School District  
ILSC - International Language Schools of Canada  

ENGLAND
Alexanders International School  
Cambridge Education Group - HO  
Camp Beaumont  
EAC Language Centres and Activity Camps  
ELC  
INTO University Partnerships  
Kaplan International Colleges  
LAL London  
London School of Business & Finance  
London School of English  
Malvern House College London  
Mont Rose College of Management & Sciences  
Queen Ethelburga's College  
SKOLA  
St Giles International  
Study Group  
Sussex Coast College Hastings  
University of Essex - International Academy  

EXAM BOARDS
Cambridge Esol  

EVENTS
Alphe Conferences  
SR Events  
International Educational Forum  

FRANCE
Accent Francais  
Alliance Française Lyon  
CAREL  
CAVILAM  
CIECE - Groupe ESCE, School of International Busin  
CLE  
Ecole Suisse Internationale  
French in Normandy  
Groupement FLE  
International House Nice  
ILCF Institut Catholique de Paris  
Langue Onze Toulouse  
LSF Montpellier  
Lyon Bleu International  
Paris Langues / Club CEI des 4 Vents  
Universite d'été de Boulogne-sur- Mer  
Université de Perpignan  
INSURANCE
Dr. Walter GmbH  

IRELAND
MEI Ireland  
Clare Language Centre  

KAZAKHSTAN
Capital Education  

NEW ZEALAND
Otago Polytechnic  

SERVICES
STM Star Awards  

SPAIN
Colegio de Espana  
Inturjoven Spanish Courses  

SWITZERLAND
EF International Language Centers  
Eurocentres International  

TOURIST BOARDS
Malta Tourism Authority  

USA
Educatius  
Open Hearts International College  
California State University San Marcos  
Columbia University  
ELS Language Centers  
Global Language Institute  
New York Language Center  
Rennert  
Ross School (The)  
Saint John's University  
Sara's New York Homestay LLC  
UC Berkeley Extension  
University of California San Diego  
Zoni Language Centers  





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