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Australia most expensive of top study destinations

The cost of study in Australia is the highest among the top study destinations and has risen dramatically over the last decade, according to the recent Chaney report.

Some question whether claims of a bounce back by 2020 are being overstated

Estimates in the government-commissioned report show the annual cost of studying and living in Australia stands at $US44,000 – up 166% since 2002. This compares with $US37,000 in the US and $US30,000 in Britain, the top two study destinations.

The cost of studying and living in Australia now stands at $US44,000 – up 166% since 2002

“We had a cost advantage through the boom period from 2002-09 – now that’s reversed with a vengeance,” Monash University researcher Bob Birrell told the Australian.

The findings confirm the worst fears of Australian educators, which have seen foreign enrolments slide by a fifth over the last few years, primarily due to the country’s strong dollar.

Some are now questioning whether claims in the report that Australia is on track for a rebound by 2020 are being overstated. According to the head of the International Education Association of Australia, Phil Honeywood, the government “clearly wants to paint an optimistic picture”.

However, he said China’s growing middle class and recent reforms to post-study work rights would ensure growth. “We are seeing green shoots out of India [in the graduate market]”, he added.

The Boston Consulting Group said that there was a “possibility of future growth”, but that Australia would have to play a “different game” to return to the peak enrolment it saw in 2009.

This will mean addressing affordability while maintaining quality. The Chaney report adds that Australia must play to other strengths, “such as work opportunities, community support and Australia’s legislative support for international students”.

Resisting tuition fee hikes will also be key. According to a poll by Higher Ed Services (HES), annual hikes range from 3.9 per cent at the University of New South Wales to 10 per cent at Griffith for business degrees.

According to a poll by Higher Ed Services, annual hikes range from 3.9 per cent to 10 per cent

Others, however, say universities have been keeping a lid on inflation. “What we have seen in recent years is universities attempting to keep fee increases to a minimum in line with the goal of providing a quality education at an internationally competitive rate,” said Belinda Robinson of Universities Australia.

According to the Chaney report, enrolments by foreign students in Australian schools, universities, TAFE and English language colleges will climb 30% by 2020.  However, it warns of the emergence of a “two speed sector”, where almost half of enrolments go to HE, with VET and ELICOS playing a smaller role.

Foreign enrolments in Australia currently hover around 500,000, down from  more than 600,000 in 2009.

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