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NT International student numbers on the rise - but we need your involvement

Monday, July 24 2017

There are now over 550 000 international students in Australia – and this does not include those tourists or those on other visa categories undertaking studies or unaccredited short courses. The vast majority of these students are in Sydney and Melbourne - with more international higher education students in Melbourne alone than the entire population of Darwin.  Food for thought.

With 134 000 international VET students in the nation, the NT figure of just 318 is a tad short of the mark by any definition. Some 126 of these students are with CDU with the balance (192) being with private providers.

Obviously there are opportunities for improvement and when you consider all the benefits that international students bring it’s a no brainer with the soft diplomacy, the cultural interactions, friendships, increased local employment opportunities along of course with many export dollars.

Nationally, we have around 280 000 international higher education students with 1245 in the NT. This is a 4% increase on last year – compared to an increase of almost 15% nationally.  Again, an improvement opportunity but one that needs broader community and government efforts to support an increase in student numbers.  And lest we forget NT schools with 108 international students here (73 with private schools) compared to some 24 000 in other jurisdictions.

The broader NT community also needs to be supportive – and to be aware that these students do not steal jobs, they are not funded by government and they do not access our public health system – the opposite of course is the reality and they do contribute significantly by creating more jobs here while able to work 40 hours a fortnight and full time during vacations.

With just the one higher education provider (CDU) and a handful of CRICOS VET, school and ELICOS providers, the NT governments ideal of 10 000 students by 2020 is, all things considered, doable but will require some collegiate and cooperative efforts across the board.

Also, the other unknown is just how many Filipinos, Indonesians etc. are also in receipt of training off shore thanks to NT providers. To this end, ACPET will be undertaking a brief survey in consultation with Study NT to ascertain who is doing what in the international space and to identify any other providers that may want to take it offshore or invest in international students coming to the Territory. 

The NT government has wisely invested in StudyNT to drive a most needed focus on international and transnational education and training. Study NT are currently designing a new government strategy to support providers and enhance the status of the NT (primarily Darwin and the Alice) as a destination of international students. Let us know if you wish to be involved.

At a more macro level, more direct international flights will help. Having a direct airline link to China aligned with a concerted touristy/education marketing campaign at both ends is essential and should be a high government priority.

On closing, with the forthcoming ACPET Asia Pacific International Education Forum in Brisbane next month (aligned to our rather superior National Conference) may I invite any interested NT parties to attend and be appraised of the opportunities – and requirements – to take your course offerings global? And perhaps enjoy a few days of winter in Brisbane?



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