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74% int’l students in Aus apply through agents

Murdoch University in Perth, one of the members of the AUIDF. Photo: michal lewi

Participating universities reported having 21 staff members per 1,000 commencements

Based on responses from more than 30 universities, the 2016 edition of the benchmarking data finds that in 2015, 74% of students were enrolled through education agencies – 16% were located within Australia and 58% based offshore.

The data, which was presented at the 2016 Australian International Education Conference, was gathered from international offices at 34 Australian universities.

“The historical figure of one in four applicants converting to commencements is now solidly one in five”

The responses to the survey also illustrate that the proportion of applicants to Australian universities that convert into commencements is decreasing.

“The average conversion rate across Australia is 19.4% across all study levels and source countries, down marginally from 2014,” said Will Archer, CEO of i-graduate, presenting the data.

“The historical figure of one in four applicants converting to commencements is now solidly one in five,” he said.

International student recruitment was reported by 32 universities to cost a total of A$220m in 2015, with the average recruitment cost per commencement sitting at $2,899. This is up from $2,584 in 2014.

Accommodation, often the biggest bugbear for international students in Australia, was included for the first time in the survey. It found that on average 13% of international students at participating institutions were in university-owned accommodation, while the rest were in private accommodation.

And for each responding university, 38% of their bed space is taken up by international students.

IEAA research last year found that insufficient and expensive purpose-built accommodation could be detrimental to Australia as a study destination, as concerns were raised over a lack of supply.

“Clearly in the recruitment process, this is becoming increasingly important to be able to demonstrate to international students and their parents that the university has the facilities to accommodate the students,” said Archer.

The responsibilities that fall to international offices were also presented in the study, with 33 of 34 universities reporting international offices are in charge of international marketing missions.

Twenty-six universities said international offices are responsible for international student enquiries, while eight reported this is the lead responsibility of another central unit in the institution.

Support for offshore students, however, was the lead responsibility for only three of the responding universities’ international offices, while 20 reported it is the obligation of another central unit, and nine institutions said it fell to academic units, such as faculties.

“Twenty-four universities reported staff and faculties frequently accompany international staff on marketing missions,” added Archer.

“Seventeen reported dedicated staff in faculties carry out international recruitment activities, and 11 described participation by staff in faculties being limited to activities such as sitting in on international committees.”

On average, participating universities reported having 21 staff members per 1,000 commencements.

“There’s just about twice as many people dedicated to international student support than dedicated to compliance”

Seven of these members of staff tend to work in admissions, while 3.6 are in international student support services and 1.8 in compliance.

“What’s encouraging to see here is there’s just about twice as many people dedicated to international student support [as there are] dedicated to compliance,” said Archer.

“One university I reported to had exactly the opposite of that.”

AUIDF has 38 university members which include directors from RMIT, Australian National University and Deakin University.

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