The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released its International Goods and Services December 2008 trade data, confirming the contribution of education as Australia's third largest export industry, directly behind coal and iron ore.
Education exports increased from $12.2 billion in 2007 to $15.5 billion in 2008, making education also the clear number one service export ahead of tourism. For the last decade education exports have been growing by an annual average of 15.7 %, compared to 10.8 % for total exports.
"From preliminary estimates, international student demand for places in Australian universities in 2009 also shows no signs of diminishing, and applications indeed look like increasing strongly, as in the past during times of financial downturn," said Dr Glenn Withers, Universities Australia Chief Executive.
"As it happens, with commodity prices falling, Universities Australia believes now is the ideal time for public investment in universities to support the capacity to sustain this export achievement and assist economic recovery," Dr Withers said.
"To make sure universities can continue to attract and retain international student enrolments, Universities Australia urges the government to invest in the recommendations of the Bradley Review of Higher Education in the upcoming Federal Budget or earlier," Dr Withers said.
"This will benefit domestic and international students equally and ensure we can deliver a world class educational experience. Escalation of student-staff ratios because of under-funding does not help anyone," Dr Withers said.
"Jobs, skills, productivity and exports should be an attractive package for Government in acting swiftly on implementing the Bradley Review's recommendations. Higher education can play a core part in supporting the economy, plus deliver wider benefits for Australia," Dr Withers said.
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