Students are tempted [to Australia] by the promise of a relaxed lifestyle with a high quality of life, cosmopolitan cities and beautiful white beaches, a favourable climate and the opportunity to learn English from friendly and welcoming native speakers,” says Sheryl Jackson, Business Development Director for Australia and New Zealand at Kaplan International Colleges.
Kaplan’s Sydney City college is located moments away from Hyde Park, “a beautiful, green oasis in the middle of the city and a favourite spot for lunchtime breaks”, Jackson notes. Its Sydney Manly campus will appeal to water sport afficionados. This seaside resort offers “a community feel and great surfing”, she says, adding that this campus now offers English and surfing.
At the Think: Class centre in North Sydney, “Students can walk across the Harbour Bridge from the college, and straight into the city. What a great way to see the Sydney Opera House at close range!” says Director, Denver Craig. Meanwhile, students attending the school’s Surry Hills centre “can visit all the hottest restaurants and art galleries at Sydney’s hipster hangouts, within a short distance from the campus”.
“Every [Sydney] tour guide will tell you to go see the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House... However, there is more to Sydney than those iconic sites,” affirms Richard Arkell, Navitas English General Manager for Elicos and Tesol Programmes. “I would recommend doing the Bondi to Coogee coastal walk. It takes about one hour, but what a view!” he enthuses.
At the Academy of English, located in the heart of the city, close to public transport and the shopping district, Academic Manager, Debbie Le Roux, highlights the botanical gardens and Mrs Macquarie’s Chair for the Open Air Cinema. Meanwhile, she says, “Darling Harbour is known for its vibrant restaurant scene, with excellent views of the harbour, and fireworks on some evenings.”
Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne, is a fantastic location, according to Marcus Scott at the Northern Melbourne Institute of Tafe (NMIT). Among its highlights, he lists “the great restaurants, with food...from all over the globe, the little lane-ways with cute bars, and the plethora of sporting, entertainment events and festivals - and then, great access to some of the natural wonders, the beaches and the mountains”. The location is ideal for water sports and activities, including kite surfing, windsurfing, sailing, snorkelling and scuba diving, he adds. Furthermore, “In winter, a couple of hours’ drive will see you in the snow fields, where snowboarding and skiing are very popular.”
The north-eastern state of Queensland boasts many popular destinations. Its capital, Brisbane, “is a river city, where people enjoy a superb quality of life”, notes Gyorgy Csiszar, Sales and Marketing Manager at Shafston International College. Facilities include beautiful parks, bikeways, major shopping and cultural complexes, sports and festivals.
The Shafston College Brisbane campus is “a truly unique destination”, he comments. With an inner-city riverside location, landscaped gardens and courtyards, and sports facilities, its central building, Shafston House, has a 160-year history that “gives the college a sense of dignity and sophistication”, Csiszar remarks.
Less than 100 kilometres from here, in Gold Coast City, is the college’s second campus. Claimed to have the best selection of surf beaches in the world, this destination also offers theme parks, wildlife parks, top quality bars and restaurants and “amazing” shopping districts, according to Csiszar.
Queensland’s Sunshine Coast is home to Sea English Academy, a small language school priding itself on personal attention. Its Sunshine Coast centres are convenient both for Brisbane and for exploring the rolling hinterland, which, as school administrator, Kimberly Byrne, highlights, provides endless opportunities for bush trekking, camping, mountain-biking, para-sailing and abseiling. “When camping, chances are that you will wake up to a furry family of kangaroos waiting for you just outside your tent!” she relates.
Noosa National Park, with black volcanic cliffs hugging white, sandy beaches, is, she attests, “a national treasure”. With numerous coves, wave breaks and walking tracks, she says, “it is possible to have a brand-new experience each time you come to Noosa.”
This beach resort was the chosen location of the first Lexis English school (which has since expanded into New South Wales and Western Australia) on the basis of a very simple idea, according to the school’s Managing Director, Ian Pratt. ”We wanted students to be able to enjoy a stunning lifestyle and still ensure that they could reach their learning goals.”
Perhaps equally alluring is the north of Queensland. In Cairns, Kaplan students can sign up for “every water sport you could probably imagine, as well as...platypus spotting, touring a crocodile farm, exploring nearby limestone caves and rainforests, camping and even bungee jumping”, Jackson notes. City lovers can “sample the excitement of the bustling night market”, which is open every day of the week, or relax in the idyllic parkland and lagoons of Cairns Esplanade.
Nearby Port Douglas is the place where the rainforests meet the Great Barrier Reef, and tropical safaris, volcanic lake or river cruises, kite and wind-surfing, snorkelling and diving are all at hand, according to Port Douglas English Language Centre’s Director of Studies, Sveta Hurford. To experience something special, Hurford recommends taking a free sunset cruise to the Low Isles, or sampling water sports “on the beautiful white-sand Four Mile Beach”. Equipment is available for hire, and friendly instructors provide a personalised service, she says.
For Claire Sprunt of Perth-based Phoenix Academy, Perth in Western Australia is the country’s “sunniest and most welcoming city”. It also offers beautiful beaches, inner-city parkland and “a ‘resort-style’ lifestyle built on the majestic Swan River”. Perth is, she says, “an outdoor Mecca, particularly for water sports”, and offers great opportunities for marine life encounters. Housed in Edwardian buildings, “in a lush, tranquil garden setting”, Phoenix itself is just 1.5 kilometres from the central business district. Alternatively, students can opt for its beach campus in the historic port of Fremantle.
Meanwhile, in Bentley is Polytechnic West, Western Australia’s largest training organisation, according to spokesperson, Kunihiro Tachi. Offering a diverse range of training in trade and para-professional areas, including English language programmes, Polytechnic West is to be found in “a peaceful, parkland setting of pine trees”, in an area which, he says, is renowned for the large amount of student accommodation available.
Students in Perth have countless attractions nearby. For Sprunt, the south-west of the state is a favourite, as “Margaret River and its surrounds have some of the world’s best wineries, oldest forests, spectacular coastline and beaches, world-class surfing, food, art and cosy places to stay.”
An interesting alternative destination is Darwin, in the Northern Territory, home to one of Australia’s eight Navitas centres. “It has such a unique landscape, wildlife and lovely tropical weather a great backdrop for wine bars, a buzzing nightlife and amazing markets,” comments Arkell. Kakadu National Park is still inhabited by Aboriginal clans and boasts a concentration of Aboriginal rock art. It’s a place “to have a very cultural and authentic Australian experience”, says Arkell.
“I think what students underline most is the fact that Australian people have a good life balance and know how to work hard but also how to play hard. Australia has a lot to offer students in terms of flora, fauna, landscapes and treasures which they all want to discover and get blown away by. Most of our French students love the [Australian] lifestyle, where everything seems so easy and people so friendly. The only thing they do miss, in some cases, is the real French baguette! Except for that, students often call us to ask what their options are to stay longer, which is a good sign.”
Anne-Sophie Morvan Francaustralia Education, France
“The ability to stay long-term, to experience the country in different ways, to get the opportunity to learn English and use it practically out of the classroom, these are important factors in choosing Australia. Other reasons include the climate, and the friendly, optimistic, helpful people. This is especially important to the younger students below the age of 18, as they have to stay with a host family. They usually remain in contact after their stay, too. Generally, Australia is an optimistic part of the world, where people smile, the sun usually shines, and the environment is student/visitor-friendly...so when students arrive in Australia the majority of them are very, very happy there from the very beginning, and they often try to repeat their stay.”
Jana Oveckova Austra Agency, Slovakia
“Australia is a very different and exotic experience for students. They find the culture quite interesting and like to experience new things. The climate and beaches have a positive effect. The students choose Australia above other English-speaking destinations, like the UK [or] USA, because Australia still offers part-time work permits to students, since this affects their English-speaking abilities and lowers the living costs. The quality of education providers is high, universities are recognised worldwide and have good reputations. It is not the cheapest destination for study, but, because of the high quality of education it [is worth it].”
Pinar Ural Karya International, Turkey