Decline In Number Of International Students Threatens Western Australia’s Universities

Sep 19, 2017 by

Recent studies have shown that the number of international students studying in Western Australia is declining at an alarming rate. This drop is set to have a drastic effect on the state if nothing is done to combat it.

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The study, conducted by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre reported a serious decline in the percentage share of the country’s international students that are choosing to study in Western Australia. In 2015, the area saw a record 50,500 international students but that’s still a big drop since 2002. Their overall share of the country’s international students has gone down by 2% and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing.

International students are important for a few different reasons. The amount of money that they bring into the universities is quite significant. In 2005, 15.2% of the total revenue of the country’s universities came directly from the tuition fees that international students pay. By 2013, this number had increased to 16.3%. If the number of international students continues to decrease rapidly, the universities could find themselves with some serious financial holes to plug, and if they don’t find a way to do it, they’ll struggle to stay afloat. Government contributions to universities have already been cut in recent years so if the money that they get from international students goes as well, the universities are going to be in big trouble. But why are international students turning away from Western Australia?

One possible explanation is a rise in the popularity of online postgraduate courses; where people used to travel abroad to get the best education, they can increasingly find this online without the travel expenses.

The impact of Indian students has also had a drastic effect all over the country, but particularly in Western Australia. Between 2007 and 2008, there was a staggering drop of 71% in the number of Indian students coming to study in the country.

In recent years, there have been reports of violence against international students studying in Australia. Indian students were often the victims of these incidents and they have been heavily publicised in the Indian media, which is most likely the reason that we’ve seen such a huge decline in numbers of international students from the area. If Indian students are unwilling to study in Australia, where are the universities going to draw those international students from.

The study suggests that Western Australia needs to exploit its proximity to Asia if they are going to find the international students that they need to survive. When contacted for comment, the Education Minister Peter Collier, admitted that there was a problem but said that the government were working on a solution. In recent years, attempts have been made to entice more students from China, Indonesia, and Vietnam to fill the vacuum left by all of the Indian students. China is fast becoming the most popular destination for Australian students and the government hopes that relationship will go two ways.

The local tourism council have also expressed their concerns, saying that the solution to the problem is to invest more money in making the area an attractive destination for students to live.

Whatever the solution, it is clear that Western Australia needs to attract more international students, otherwise, their university system will be in a dire financial situation.

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