In­ter­na­tional co­horts are not di­ver­si­fy­ing but are con­gre­gat­ing

THE (Times Higher Education) - - NEWS - [email protected]­ere­d­u­ca­

Aus­tralia’s in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion boom cities of Syd­ney, Mel­bourne and Can­berra are mo­nop­o­lis­ing the bal­loon­ing cash flows from for­eign

stu­dents, new trade data sug­gest.

Fig­ures re­leased by the Aus­tralian Bureau of Sta­tis­tics show that New South Wales, Vic­to­ria and the Aus­tralian Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory now at­tract al­most three-quar­ters of in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion earn­ings.

The three ju­ris­dic­tions have shared al­most 80 per cent of the rev­enue growth over the past three years, bank­ing a com­bined A$23.8 bil­lion (£13.4 bil­lion) in the last fi­nan­cial year – up from A$15 bil­lion in 2014-15.

This pe­riod co­in­cides with an ag­gres­sive push by the top-ranked uni­ver­si­ties of Syd­ney, Mel­bourne and Can­berra, with in­ter­na­tional stu­dents hoovered up to bankroll re­search and in­fra­struc­ture.

Tas­ma­nia also dou­bled its in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion rev­enue over that pe­riod, but from a low base. The other three states and the North­ern Ter­ri­tory ex­pe­ri­enced rel­a­tively muted earn­ings growth, with their share of the to­tal pie de­clin­ing.

Re­cently re­leased bureau fig­ures also sug­gest that the in­dus­try is fail­ing in its ef­forts to di­ver­sify its source mar­kets. In­come from the big­gest con­trib­u­tor, China, dou­bled in three years from A$5.5 bil­lion in 2014-15 to A$11 bil­lion in 2017‑18.

Among the ma­jor mar­kets, China’s growth rate was sur­passed only by Nepal, where rev­enue surged 124 per cent to A$1.6 bil­lion, and Sri Lanka, where earn­ings also dou­bled.

Nepal leapfrogged South Ko­rea, Viet­nam, Malaysia and Thai­land to be­come Aus­tralia’s third big­gest ed­u­ca­tion mar­ket. Growth from In­dia rose by a more mod­er­ate 62 per cent to A$3.8 bil­lion, pip­ping the pre­vi­ous record of A$3.2 bil­lion in 2009-10.

Over­all ed­u­ca­tion ex­ports rose by 53 per cent over the three years to A$32.4 bil­lion. De­spite this, earn­ings fell from about a quar­ter of the 140-plus coun­tries that send stu­dents to Aus­tralia – par­tic­u­larly in eastern Eu­rope, Africa and the Mid­dle East.

Cash flows de­clined from the ma­jor mar­kets of the Philip­pines and Saudi Ara­bia, as well as Asi­aPa­cific neigh­bours East Ti­mor, Samoa and Van­u­atu.

Aus­tralia now ob­tains most of its in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion earn­ings from east and south Asia. The share of rev­enue from China, its spe­cial ad­min­is­tra­tive re­gions and the In­dian sub­con­ti­nent na­tions rose from 49 per cent in 2014-15 to 58 per cent last fi­nan­cial year.

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