NSW welcomes more international students than any other state – 171,000 last year – with international education its second biggest export, worth $6 billion.
Announcing the measure during a trade mission to India, Premier Barry O’Farrell said: “We have world-class universities, vocational institutions and research organisations, but we need to do more to attract international students seeking high quality education, cultural and employment experience.
“The travel concessions announced today will increase the attraction of NSW”
“The travel concessions announced today will increase the attraction of NSW as an ideal location for further education and provide better access to safe and affordable public transport options for overseas students.”
In a statement, NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner said international students would soon enjoy discounts on MyMulti passes, which offer periodic unlimited travel on buses, trains, light rail and ferries in Greater Sydney, the Hunter and the Illawarra regions.
The discounts allow for potential savings of more than $800 on an annual MyMulti3 pass and more than $450 on an annual MyMulti2. Overseas students can also save more than $200 on a MyMulti3 90 day pass and $133 on a MyMulti2 90 day pass.
“The savings can apply to all travel, not simply travel to and from students’ place of study, so this provides a fantastic opportunity for students to get out and explore Sydney and NSW,” Stoner added.
The concessions were announced as a direct response to a recommendation from the NSW Government’s International Education and Research Taskforce, which released a report today on positioning NSW as a “global leader in international education by 2021″ and overcoming challenges over the student experience.
It found that a shortage of quality housing in the state meant many students had to live either in unsuitable or unsafe accommodation, or some distance from their campus. Students are reported to have put themselves at risk of crime by walking long distances home at night save money on travel. Domestic by comparison enjoy half fare concessions are available on most timetabled services.
“Cheaper travel will assist international students in finding suitable and affordable accommodation”
Belinda Robinson, chief executive of Universities Australia, welcomed the concessions. “Cheaper travel will assist international students in finding suitable and affordable accommodation, as well as increasing their work options and opportunities,” she said.
“Hopefully NSW’s decision will help persuade their Victorian counterparts to join the rest of the country in doing not only the right thing by international students, but what is smart for their state’s competitiveness.”
Enrolments in NSW have fallen in recent years due to a persistently high dollar, visa obstacles and growing competition from rival study destinations – a situation reflected across Australia. Recent modelling from the International Education Association of Australia predicts that from its peak of AUS$18bn in 2009, the value of education as an export in the country will bottom out at AUS$14bn in 2013-14, and only return to previous levels by 2020.