Speaking during a reception at the NT Government House, CISA national president Nina Khairina announced the organisation’s desire to represent the full international body in Australia.
“If you have a clear vision of being a holistic international student voice you need representation from as many states and as many sectors as possible”
“I think its very important that if you have a clear vision of being a holistic international student voice you need representation from as many states and as many sectors as possible,” she told The PIE News. “The only [territory] that CISA has never touched is NT.”
According to StudyNT general manager Mark Darby, the process of involving NT students took 18 months, with initial discussions starting with previous CISA national president Thomson Ch’ng and culminating in the NT government providing conference sponsorship through StudyNT.
The hard work appears to have paid off, as Khairina confirmed a NT representative has been elected to CISA’s council.
Darby reiterated Khairina’s comments on the need for the association to represent all international students, but acknowledged that goal hadn’t been entirely achievable until the territory’s recent focus towards international education.
“We are the last jurisdiction to have a state government entity established related to international education and an international education strategy, which has only been in place for the past 18 months.”
The NT currently has Australia’s lowest portion of international students, with just over 1,000 enrolments in 2015. Talking about the challenges of encouraging students to NT, Darby said it is important for the territory to set itself apart from the rest of the country.
“You don’t start comparing yourself to the Go8 or the southern states,” he said. “You articulate what it is that is unique about the opportunities here and you appeal in some cases to a different type of student.”
For the territory, the unique factors include its proximity to Asia relative to other Australian regions and the upcoming employment opportunities.
“Why we have a focus in the NT government on international education is because if we focus on the south, there’s 23-24 million people within four hours of where we are. Go four hours north, it’s hundreds of millions of people,” NT Minister of Education Peter Chandler told The PIE News.
Chandler said that with one of the lowest unemployment rates in Australia, the territory offers international students employment opportunities and with economic and jobs growth expected over the coming decades, the territory’s skills needs are where international students could “have a big impact on the growth of NT in the future”.
Darby reiterated the importance of CISA as part of the NT looking to build upon its international education offerings.
“The time is now for a sense of this conversation about northern Australia and its connection to Asia… to really fulfil its destiny.”