Australia is the most expensive country for international students, ahead of the US and UK, but the falling currency and improved visa processes could soon seen a resurgence in numbers, an international report has found.
The average cost for international students for university fees and living costs in Australia totalled $US38,000 ($41,700) per year, research by HSBC found.
In the US, costs reached $US35,000 each year while students in the UK shelled out $US30,000.
The total number of international students enrolled in Australia has declined almost 20 per cent since the peak of 472,214 in 2010, data from federal government agency Australian Education International showed.
“While Australia has continued to enjoy higher economic growth than other western markets over the past five years, this has also led to a higher Australian dollar which has placed a strain on the price competitiveness of our export sectors, including education,” HSBC’s head of retail banking and wealth management in Australia Graham Heunis said.
The Australian dollar rose above parity against the US dollar in November 2010, and remained mostly above 100 US cents until its recent plunge in mid-April.
The currency has since shed more than 13 per cent of its value, and is currently trading between the range of 90 US cents to 93 US cents.
“This research confirms what many other studies have shown and that is that the strong Australian dollar has made it tough for Australian export industries,” the chief executive of Universities Australia, Belinda Robinson, said.
She said while Australia had competitive advantages over other international education hotspots, such as post-study work rights and the ability for students to work while studying, the sector could not be complacent about its strengths as Asian countries were continuing to invest in their own educational institutions.
Mr Heunis said with other factors such as Australia’s proximity to Asia – home to more than half of such students worldwide – still a key draw for international students, the weakening dollar could boost enrolments to their previous levels.
“Having withstood the cost pressure of the high Australian dollar for the past three years, Australia’s tertiary institutions could see international student numbers swing back with the falling Australian dollar,” he said, adding that streamlined visa processes introduced last year would also be an incentive.
KJ Low, whose daughter Rani is set to commence architectural studies at the University of Sydney, said that Australia’s proximity to Singapore and Indonesia, where his family is based, as well as the quality of tertiary education on offer, took precedence over the cost of living and school fees.
“Quality is the first and utmost [reason],” Mr Low said. “Secondly, the distance and the time zone – two hours difference from Singapore and three hours from Jakarta makes it easy to talk to her, and for us to fly out to Sydney in case of an emergency – that’s important.
“Now with the depreciation of the Australian dollar, the costs become cheaper.”
The National Australia Bank has revised down its forecasts for the Australian dollar against its US counterpart on Monday, and now expect the currency to fall to 86 US cents by the end of this year and to 80 US cents by the end of 2014.
Read more here.
Comments are closed.