Australia’s second-most populous city has released its new framework for international engagement, which sets out seven priority areas for global relationships and recognises the role that the international education sector plays in Melbourne’s economic development.
In particular, Melbourne plans to facilitate foreign investment by leveraging diaspora and alumni communities, including international students in Melbourne.
This includes “nurturing international student talent, entrepreneurship and leadership skills” as well as improving pathways to employment and establishing life-long relationships with graduates and alumni. The city has yet to provide details of what this entails.
Earlier this year, Melbourne ran an Open Innovation Competition among innovators and entrepreneurs focused on creating an inclusive city for students and alumni. The six winners were all international student alumni and their solutions focused on employment for international students.
The strategy also commits to supporting the international education sector through “advocacy, student welcomes and assisting with employability”, as well as facilitating more student exchanges.
Melbourne’s external campaigns will be updated to promote the city as “one of the most multicultural” in the world to further attract tourists, investors and students. This will see the city government work with Austrade and Global Victoria to position Melbourne as the destination of choice for students.
Melbourne is home to approximately 170,000 international students and a number of international institutions including the University of Melbourne, Deakin University and RMIT University.
“We’re working hard to become Australia’s number one city for student experience”
“We’re working hard to become Australia’s number one city for student experience because we know how much they add to our culture, atmosphere and economy,” said Davydd Griffiths, councillor and education and innovation portfolio lead at the City of Melbourne.
“Through strong advocacy, messaging and support initiatives, we’ve brought the international student population back to 92% of pre-pandemic levels.”
Future campaigns will focus on the city’s diversity and positioning Melbourne as “modern, welcoming and multicultural city”. Currently, 55% of the city’s residents were born overseas, and 71% have at least one overseas-born parent.
Layton Pike, executive director international at RMIT University, who contributed to the development of the new strategy, said the plan will help attract international students to Melbourne.
“RMIT is seeing and is anticipating a further steady return in international students coming back to Melbourne. It may take some time to reach pre-pandemic levels but applications are in line with our projections,” he said.
“Where cities partner overseas that seeks to build further visibility, understanding and association with those cities so that only would continue to help our efforts.”
Pike added that it was important to reflect Melbourne’s diversity.
“We can do more to lean in on those unique strengths of Melbourne in its diversity and multiculturalism to differentiate ourselves from other parts of Australia and the world in terms of the experience international students would find themselves having here.”
The strategy also sets out plans to establish Melbourne as an economic hub for the Asia-Pacific region and to continue engagement with key Asian markets, including China, Melbourne’s largest source of international students and tourists.
Other priority regions include Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and India.
Pike said he was “pleased” the strategy takes a regional approach.
“We can’t do everything everywhere, so focus is very important. I was also advocating for the city to work in places where its organisations already have established footprints.
“Many people in Vietnam already feel a close association to Melbourne because of RMIT Vietnam [RMIT’s branch campus]. That connects Melbourne to a range of industries and diaspora communities,” Pike said.
“RMIT is committed to being a leading university of impact in the Asia Pacific region, and partnering to make a lasting impact in the communities we serve,” he continued.
Melbourne’s international engagement priority areas:
- Promoting Melbourne as one of the world’s most innovative and multicultural cities
- Facilitating inbound and outbound missions and visits to support Council achieving its objectives
- Establishing Melbourne as an economic hub for the Asia-Pacific, Australia’s number one city for businesses and start-ups
- Partnering with industry to develop globally competitive innovation ecosystems
- Be a city leader in the Asia Pacific region in working towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
- Leveraging diaspora and alumni communities to facilitate relationships and investment
- Continue engagement with important markets in Asia