This week, the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Australia, Graham Quirk writes about the importance of international students are and what the city does to welcome them.

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Something I am most proud of in my position of Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Australia’s new world city, is how we welcome our international students.

Our city’s growing global reputation as an Australasian centre of educational excellence is attracting tens of thousands of international students to the city. There are currently about 75,000 international student enrolments in Brisbane at our universities, state and private high schools, private colleges, TAFEs and English language schools.

In 2013, Brisbane welcomed students from countries such as China, India, Korea, USA, Brazil, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, Colombia, Taiwan and Canada.

International education generates thousands of local jobs along with AUS$5.1 billion (US$4.85bn) in course fees and other spending each year, making it Brisbane’s biggest export market.

However, international students enrich far more than our economy. Their presence creates a cosmopolitan and vibrant city and they also strengthen our network with cities around the globe, creating lifelong relationships.

Brisbane City Council’s economic development board Brisbane Marketing runs the Study Brisbane programme which is dedicated to supporting current and future international students.

Other Study Brisbane initiatives include the Brisbane Welcomes International Students Festival, regular friendship ceremonies with the Lord Mayor and the Brisbane International Student Ambassador programme. Students receive a ‘Certificate of Friendship’ and information about their adopted city.

I have presented more than 3,000 certificates to international students from the University of Queensland, Griffith University, Queensland University of Technology, Southbank Institute of Technology and elsewhere.

The International Student Ambassador programme was established in 2009 and harnesses the global reach of our international students to spread the word about the cultural, business and investment opportunities Brisbane has to offer. The 33 ambassadors in 2013 are from 29 countries, including China, India, Vietnam, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Thailand and Singapore.

Their combined social media reach exceeds 25,000 via social media platforms including Facebook, twitter, instagram, tumblr, Chinese language Weibo and Keek, which is popular amongst Middle Eastern students.

A gateway to Asia, Brisbane offers a multi-cultural hub of creativity. Our forward-thinking educational providers are consistently ranked among the world’s best. Australia's seamless education and training framework means students can access a range of education options, and move easily between levels of study and institutions.

Brisbane’s strong economy, affordability, lifestyle, beautiful weather, efficient transport system, safe environment and friendly locals are also major factors in why students choose to study here.

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