||Australia is a great language study destination, as the people are very friendly," asserts Darren Donaldson at the English College of Adelaide. "The climate is beautiful one day and perfect the next and students can experience our amazing wildlife and natural environment."
Christine Bundesen, Director of the Institute of Continuing and Tesol Education (ICTE) at the University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane adds, "Australia is consistently ranked as one of the most liveable countries in the world, with an affordable cost of living and [a] safe environment for students." Australia's number-one tourist destination is Queensland's Gold Coast, according to Lynn Tyler, Principal of Queensland International Business Academy (QIBA) in Coolangatta. International students seeking a year-round opportunity to engage in marine sports and the benefits of a sub-tropical climate, will, she says, love Coolangatta in Gold Coast City. "Coolangatta is an aboriginal word meaning ‘brilliant view of water'", she explains, "and that is just what students get when they check out the beach from QIBA's balcony."
QIBA itself is located in a shopping and business centre called ‘Showcase on the Beach', which has a wide variety of shops, cafés, restaurants, six movie theatres and a library, all only one minute's walk from the beach. "QIBA not only attracts keen surfers and swimmers who combine study and leisure, but also students preparing for university programmes at our partner institution, Southern Cross University's Tweed Gold Coast campus," notes Tyler.
In the far north of Queensland, the coastal town of Cairns is simply "paradise" for Ulrich Stauffer at Geos Cairns College of English. As he explains, Cairns is the gateway to two of the world's greatest natural attractions the Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforests. The town itself also has plenty to offer. "The 4,000 metre-square swimming lagoon at the Esplanade is one of my favourite [attractions]," Stauffer observes. Meanwhile, lovers of basketball can "experience the best atmosphere in any basketball stadium in Australia" when they take a night out to watch the local team, the Cairns Taipans.
Queensland's capital is Australia's third-largest city, Brisbane, which, according to Bundesen, "has the appeal of a major city, yet is still very accessible for students who may be travelling overseas for the first time". As well as museums, art galleries and markets to visit, Brisbane offers many cultural festivals and sporting events. Queensland's southeast corner also offers many speciality foods that match its outdoor lifestyle, including "wonderful fresh seafood, such as Moreton Bay Bugs a type of local shellfish", notes Bundesen.
Moving down into New South Wales, on the east coast, approximately midway between Brisbane and the state capital, Sydney and connected to both via its own local airport is Coffs Harbour. Home to CHEC English Language Centre, this popular tourist destination boasts one of the biggest marinas outside Sydney. However, its attractions are not limited to watersports. Coffs Harbour offers plenty of activities for all, according to Susan Perry at the school. Options range from bush walking, sky diving and whale watching to nightclubs, cinemas, theatre and shopping. The school itself is located on its own well-equipped campus in the bush providing, says Perry, an attractive and peaceful setting for study.
Melbourne, capital of Victoria in the south-eastern corner of the country, also has beaches and an outdoor lifestyle to offer, as well as playing host to some of Australia's and the world's greatest sporting events. Kallie Rougos at Melbourne-based RMIT English Worldwide reports, "After the excitement of the Australian Tennis Open, Melbourne is [hosting] the Commonwealth Games, to be followed by the glamour and drama of the Grand Prix. Even if you're not a sports-mad fan," she insists, "you can't help but get caught up in the buzz of the city during these sporting events." Australia's second-largest city after Sydney, Melbourne is, adds Rougos, "a haven for international students", with its vibrant atmosphere and multicultural environment.
In South Australia, Adelaide, by contrast, has a small international student population. However, according to Margaret Dyer at SA Adelaide Language Centre, it is a very multicultural city, with a growing reputation as the education capital of Australia. Students are attracted there because of its quality and range of educational opportunities, as well as the climate, the relatively low cost of living and an international reputation for festivals and promotion of the arts.
According to Dyer, one particular draw is the range of free services, including two bus routes around the city, as well as many free sporting and entertainment attractions, particularly during festival periods. As she points out, the arts feature prominently in the life of South Australia. "Apart from the biennial Adelaide International Festival of Arts and its highly acclaimed companion, the Fringe Festival, we love the annual Womad [festival of music arts and dance], our Royal Show, the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under, and many other… events that feature local produce, activities and celebrate the unique South Australian lifestyle."
Donaldson comments, "Adelaide is situated in a perfect location on the coast and next to the hills. Students like to socialise during the day at the beautiful beaches, sun baking or playing sports... They also enjoy shopping in Rundle Mall [shopping district]. By night, they can sample the many restaurants, pubs and nightclubs."
In Perth, students will be closer to Singapore and Jakarta than to Australia's own capital, but the Western Australian state capital now enjoys direct connections with many of the world's capital cities. With a population of around 1.5 million, according to Nicole Ensor at Martin College/Embassy CES, Perth has all the attractions and facilities of a large multicultural city, while being still small enough to retain "its own unique and laid-back culture". For Warren Milner, Director of Perth-based Milner International College of English, the draw is the moderate, Mediterranean climate. "There is a year-round average of eight hours clear sunshine, so it's an outdoor lifestyle," he notes, while the "massive, clean, white sand beaches and unpolluted water" also have major appeal.
Those seeking something different will find fulfilment in this area. "[Students] can experience the desert-like landscape of the Pinnacles, and get the adrenaline pumping whilst sand-boarding, a few hours north of Perth," says Ensor. Anyone venturing into the northwest of the state, meanwhile, will find "a stark contrast" to the lush, green southwest. "The warm, dry climate, red dirt and deep gorges resemble the iconic view of ‘the outback' that so many international visitors come to explore."
Less challenging, but equally special is a day trip to the island nature reserve of Rottnest. Approximately 25 minutes by ferry from the Perth mainland, this is a great place for snorkelling and diving with its coral reefs and crystal clear waters. There are no cars on the island so the main mode of transport is by bike and, memorably, the island is also home to its own unique marsupial, the quokka.
"What makes students choose Australia? The programmes of study, the relatively low cost for medium and long-term stays, the weather, the lifestyle, the buzz."
Sue Magan de Brieva, International Educational Consultants, Spain
"For Czech people, Australia sounds a very exotic and interesting country. As it is so far away, our clients prefer to go for a longer period and stay on a student visa. If they have a student visa, they can also apply for the limited work permit and work during their stay for 20 hours a week. The great thing about Australia is its people. Our clients are really surprised how nice and relaxed Aussies are!"
Katerina Vojtková, Student Agency, Czech Republic
"Queensland…is becoming a hotspot for overseas study and travel due to its good weather, cheaper accommodation and prices in general, a well as quality education offered at university and non-university level. For English language students, many look to combine their studies with surfing, sailing, golf or other sports."
David Leonida, Estudiafuera - Servicios Interactivos, Spain
"Which particular aspects of Australia do [students] like best? The beautiful setting of Sydney around a lovely bay? A day trip to Moreton Island? Doing the Padi diving certificate in Cairns? Enjoying Perth's sunny climate on a lively beach? Melbourne's fantastic nightlife? The list is endless!"
Thomas Schuette, STA Travel, Switzerland