Despite a lot of political tension recently between the Australian government and the Chinese government over the influence and pressure, the Chinese Government is alleged to have over Chinese students studying in Australia. Australia remains a favored choice for many international students looking to broaden their horizons by doing all or part of their studies overseas. By being part of the Anglosphere it makes it very attractive to those students looking to improve their skills in the language of international commerce and the climate and laid-back lifestyle are also a magnet for students looking for a comfortable place to study. While Australia may be a long distance away from Europe and North America it is relatively close to Asia which is the primary source of international students.
This attractiveness has seen foreign student numbers continue to grow year over year. 2016 figures showed an over 10% increase in total student numbers to a record high of 712,884. Of this over 400,000 where new enrollees, also a record. They are also likely to continue to grow despite the kerfuffle with China as over 89% of students said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their educational experience while studying in Australia. China remains the largest source of the foreign student but there is ever increasing numbers of students from India as well as Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam. As the middle class emerges throughout Asia these numbers should continue to grow.
Australia is in many countries becoming the first choice destination for overseas education, even beating out the traditionally dominant players like the US and UK. A recent survey of Indian students showed that many would prefer to study in Australia. The climate and increasingly cosmopolitan large cities are seen as attractive as well as the perceived high quality of the education. As Australia has grown more multicultural it has become easier for foreign students to feel less alien and more at home.
This is not to say that this has been just a one-way exchange of students coming to get the benefit of education without subsequent benefits flowing to Australia. It is estimated that foreign students contributed over $20.3 Billion to the Australian economy of which $13.7 Billion flows directly to the Universities and other educational institutions. It is estimated that this helps sustain over 137,000 jobs in Australia. Many businesses have sprung up that are entirely dependant on this student for all or part of their income, including ethnic restaurants, visa and travel services and even writing services for those needing help with homework assignments.
Despite the global trend we have seen towards insularity and xenophobia with some politicians seeking to exploit this politically for their own ends, there continues to be strong demand for many students to come to Australia to study. It will continue to grow despite some currents of opposition because it not only fulfills the students need for broader horizons but the experience of Australian students mixing with people from other cultures also makes their educational experiences much more valuable.
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