The latest international education statistics released yesterday by Australian Education International (AEI) puts paid to recent doomsayer reporting that suggested international student enrolments were in free fall, the Australian Vice-Chancellors' Committee (AVCC) said today.
"The latest figures show that the trend in 2006 enrolments and commencements is upward, with an 8% increase in total international student enrolments for the same period last year," AVCC President Professor Gerard Sutton said.
"International student enrolments and commencements in higher education have grown by 5.8% and 8.3% respectively.
"The higher education sector also continues to lead the way with the highest proportion of international students year-to-date of 55.1% (February 2006)," Professor Sutton said.
"The trend data for 2002 to 2005 also suggests that Australia is managing to sustain its growth in this market, albeit at a steadier rate than earlier `boom' years, while a number of our major competitor countries have recorded negative growth over the same period.
"Sustaining our success in attracting international students is entering a new phase, particularly as the landscape is changing globally with an increasing emphasis on the value of intellectual labour rather than cheap labour," Professor Sutton said.
"Trade Minister Mark Vaile in the recent statement Trade 2006 indicated educational services had increased by 9% in 2005 to $7.5 billion, the fourth largest export in the country in 2005," Professor Sutton said.
"The latest data affirms Australia's reputation as a world leader in the provision of quality education to international students. However, we are in danger of being left behind in the knowledge race if we do not ensure also that a higher proportion of Australian students gain an international study experience, and that the education for all students in Australian universities provides international education opportunities," Professor Sutton said.
"The announcement yesterday by the Minister for Education, Science and Training Ms Julie Bishop of a Government review to identify opportunities and obstacles for students to have such an experience as part of their formal study is to be applauded. "Expanding the international experience of Australian students is a key plank in the AVCC's Vision for 2020, and the AVCC looks forward to working with the Government towards that end," Professor Sutton said.
*Australian Education International (AEI) statistics, February 2006 (released 4 April 2006)
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