U.S. top, Australia flop

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25 augustus 2011 | The U.S. continues attracting international students with overseas graduate admissions growing by 11%. Australia’s international HE sector shrinks placing a burden on tourism as well.

The U.S. seems more popular than ever to international studentswith last year’s admissions indicating an 11% growth rate.Especially China (23%), the Middle East (16%), Turkey (16%) andIndia (8%) contributed to this phenomenon.

These countries all have experienced significant growth,economic and population wise. Universities, however, could oftennot keep up with the greater influx from students. This triggereddeveloping countries to send their talent overseas with governmentfunds.

In the U.S., 15,5% of all graduate students come from abroadwith the higher education sector producing 96.000 internationalgraduates between 2008 and 2009. Particularly Indian students findAmerican universities highly attractive resulting in more visa applications.

International HE sector shrinks…

Australia, meanwhile, loses out on this trend with internationalstudent numbers decreasing for the first time in a decade.Deloitte, a prominent auditing and consultancy firm, recentlyassessed that both the expensive Australian Dollar and reputationalfactors play a role.

Two years ago, Australia got into the spotlight of internationalmedia due to racially motivated violence and robberies againstIndian students. Deloitte states that this damaged the country’sreputation as a place welcoming to foreigners.

Tourism has suffered in a similar fashion from these events.Recent numbers from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)indicate that there are 1,5 million more short-term visitors(staying up to 1 year) leaving the country than arriving.

…and pulls tourism down as well

Many attributed this to the expensive Australian currency. TheABS, however, found that there was no significant correlationbetween tourists arriving and the currency fluctuations as tourismhas been on a steady decline since 2002.

Stephen Connelly, president of the International EducationAssociation of Australia, argued that this development can bepartially explained with the collapsein overseas student numbers. International students would spend$18.000 in living expenses per year of which a big chunk would goto the Australian travel industry

Even more, “visits by relatives and friends to students whilethey’re in Australia [are also] a substantial component of inboundtourism.” He estimated that up to 25% of overnight hotel stayscould be attributed to international students.


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