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Strong growth in Visas granted to Philippine students

Monday, September 23 2013

The Philippines recorded the highest percentage growth among all markets for Australian education in financial year 2012–13, showing a 35.3 per cent growth rate in offshore and onshore grants, according to the latest Department of Immigration Student Visa Quarterly Report.

There were 5274 combined student visa grants in 2012–13, compared to 3898 in 2011–12. For offshore grants, the Philippines represents the twelfth largest market, with a growth rate of 34.8 per cent.

The Philippine market has been growing steadily over the last five years, with healthy numbers for vocational education and training (VET) and higher education. For VET, the Philippines is the largest market for offshore grants, with 1448 visa grants for subclass 572 and a growth rate of 19.1 per cent. For higher education, the Philippines is the thirteenth largest market for offshore grants, with 1398 grants for visa sub-class 573 and a growth rate of 56.2 per cent. The student visa grant rate was 80.9 per cent, fifteenth overall among markets with high grant rates.

Program preferences have remained consistent for both higher education and VET, partially reflecting course choices in the Philippines, as follows:

• business and management
• health
• society and arts.

The growth in Philippine students seeking international education is supported by the country’s positive economic performance. The Philippine economy grew by 6.6 per cent in 2012 and is on track for over 7 per cent in 2013. This is a dramatic improvement from 3.9 per cent GDP growth in 2011. The Philippines was the fastest growing ASEAN economy in 2012 and the second-fastest growing economy in Asia, after China.

Due to strong economic growth, key industries require professional and skilled workers who meet international standards. The government has identified priority sectors, including tourism, infrastructure and agriculture. In addition, demand for high calibre talent is being driven by growth in industries such as banking and finance, ICT and business process outsourcing and advanced manufacturing.

Competitor study destinations have seen a drop in student numbers from the Philippines due to negative perceptions of their economies. Once predominantly a US market, Filipino students shifted to Australia at the time of the global economic downturn. As an education destination, the UK has also experienced a decrease in student numbers as a result of negative perceptions about their economy and also stricter visa procedures.
Filipinos have a strong tendency to choose countries and cities where they have friends or family to provide support. There are now over 200 000 Filipinos living in Australia. Large Filipino communities are located in Sydney and Melbourne, as indicated by the international student data provided by Australian Education International (AEI). It is also worth noting that Filipino alumni of Australian institutions have become more active during the past few years and are proving to be valuable endorsers of Australian education.

Regular visits by education institutions to counsel students at exhibitions have also been an important factor contributing to the growth of student numbers. Filipino students and parents place high value on being able to talk directly with official representatives and to have their questions addressed quickly. In addition, there is a more enhanced awareness of the role of education agents as official representatives of institutions.

Overall, potential students are more informed about their choice of destinations and courses. Information gathering is done through:

• the internet, a popular source of readily-available information
• comparison of the services of different education agents
• advice from family and friends in Australia.

A few years ago, serious students would take a year to decide on their international study after initial contact with institutional representatives and agents. There is now a shorter conversion period between student-facing activities and actual enrolment and visa application.
For more information on the Philippine market, contact Mr Benjie Garcia, Education Manager, Austrade Manila.


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