Over recent months, it has become apparent that Australia’s six year boom in international students is under threat:
Australia’s three main sources of international students – China, India and Nepal – are all facing stiff headwinds that will crimp enrolments in the years ahead.
As noted previously, Chinese student visa applications have already begun to fall, down 3.3% in the year to June 2019, according to the Department of Home Affairs. Visa applications are a leading indicator for actual enrolments, thus portending falling student numbers amongst Australia’s biggest international student cohort.
The outlook for Indian and Nepalese student enrolments is also gloomy.
The Morrison Government’s 30,000 cut to Australia’s permanent migrant intake has lowered the chances of transitioning to permanent residency, thus reducing the incentive to study in Australia.
The Government has also labelled students from India, Nepal and Pakistan “High-risk”, which means they must now meet tougher requirements to gain a student visa. These include: 1) demonstrating strong English-language capacity; and 2) proving they have adequate financial resources to support themselves.
Already, several Australian educational institutions have blacklisted students from these nations, as well as cancelled ‘confirmation of enrolment’ offers.
The upshot is that student enrolments from China, India and Nepal are set to fall sharply in the period ahead, thus ending Australia’s international student boom.
Now Australia’s tertiary education providers are seeking new ‘boom’ markets, including students from Latin America:
Latin America is emerging as the fastest-growing region for international enrollments…
In just four years to 2017, the number of Latin Americans studying in Australia almost doubled, making it the fastest-growing source of international students, albeit from a low base…
A government-appointed working group, comprising representatives from education and training institutes and the research and business sectors, has been tasked with developing a strategy for engagement in the region.
The group has identified six priority countries: Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Mexico and Peru…
So far, the biggest beneficiaries of the Latin American student boom have been private English language training providers…
The main deterrent for students considering Australia was its distance from their home country, high living costs and expensive course fees.
Universities are also being urged to offer more scholarships to overcome the major barrier of the cost of an education in Australia.
“It’s really a price point; if they’re having to pay for accommodation while they’re here plus around $35,000 a year in tuition fees they’re going to vote with their feet,” Mr Honeywood said.
The last three paragraphs highlight why Latin America will never become a major source of international students: they cannot afford the extortionate fees and cost of living in Australia.
The fact that universities must offer scholarships in order to attract students from Latin America underscores the reality that the number of families in Latin America that can afford to pay full fees for an Australian university degree is not large enough to support our universities’ enrolment ambitions.
Moreover, even if a sufficient number of financially-capable Latin American students could be recruited to offset the decline from the other nations, recruiting them would very likely require Australian universities to reach deep down into the talent pool, thus eroding entry and teaching standards even further.
Australia’s universities need to face the fact that the six year boom in international students is coming to an end.