The Australian state of Victoria is significantly looking to boost the number of international students that choose to study there – and it’s not only looking at targeting higher education students.
In spite of the fact that international education brings around AUS$4.7 billion a year into the state’s coffers, making it the state’s biggest single export market, the majority of overseas students in Victoria currently study at universities and tertiary colleges.
However, in recent years there has been an increasing demand from foreign parents to send their children to Australian secondary schools, and this has been identified by the Victorian government as an expansion opportunity.
The total number of international students at Australian schools grew by more than 12 per cent in the year to the end of May 2015, with almost 16,000 fee-paying international students nationwide.
At present, Victoria accounts for around a third of Australia’s total international school student market, with approximately 5,055 overseas students attending Victorian schools.
According to Judy Crowe, the President of the Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals, who is in support of the idea, the main challenge facing the state is ensuring that government-funded schools, in addition to private schools, are able to benefit from the expansion.
Ms Crowe also said that parents of potential overseas school students must be persuaded to look away from schools in popular inner city areas.
“There is strong interest in inner city schools that are well known but don’t have the capacity to take on more students, so the challenge is to attract more international students to regional and suburban schools that can provide just as good an education,” she said.
The Victorian government has acknowledge that a significant expansion in overseas school students would require increased school capacity and increased investment in English language provision and student accommodation such as home stay arrangements.
The government has also assured local parents that fee-paying international students would not take places needed by Australian-based children.