Over 38,000 international students studied in South Australia in 2018 – up from 11,100 in 2002 – contributed $1.8bn to the local economy last year, according to the ‘International Education 2030’ report.
“For the first time, a whole of economy approach will be adopted”
With the exception of Kenya, all the top source countries for students are in Asia, with the bulk coming from China (40%), India (15%), Hong Kong (5%) and Vietnam (5%).
“International education plays a critical role in South Australia’s economy… but further to that, it attracts new students, new industries and new investors to our state, and provides opportunities for cultural exchange, integration and diversification,” premier Steven Marshall said.
Marshall said he believes the strategy represents a new, more all-encompassing approach to the industry for the region.
“For the first time, a whole of economy approach will be adopted, meaning we are not just focused on international education in terms of export dollars but in terms of implications for the wider state economy,” he explained.
In addition to increasing the industry’s value, the strategy joins a slew of new measures targeting international students.
Initiatives are making it easier for students to stay on in South Australia following graduation, offering special visas for high-performing graduates and extending work rights from two years to three.
StudyAdelaide also had its funding increased by $2.5 million in last year’s State Budget.
The growth targets were established following government consultation with all sectors of the education industry via the Ministerial Advisory Committee for International Education, chaired by the minister.
“The targets reflect a desire for sustainable growth going forward – as has been achieved over the past four to five years,” Karyn Kent, CEO of StudyAdelaide, told The PIE News.
“We will be heavily involved in the implementation of the strategy in the areas that align with our charter, working closely with our institution members as we do currently.
“Any diversification of the marketing strategy to new markets will involve consultation between government, StudyAdelaide and education institutions,” Kent added.
“Based on what we are seeing in terms of commencements and enrolments for the first five months of this year, South Australia has made a good start to achieving the targets with commencements up 15% and enrolments up 12% YTD May 2019.”
“South Australia has made a good start to achieving the targets”
The government will seek to attract “new education providers, agents and education investment to South Australia” and invest in related infrastructure, the report explained.
It also discussed the possibility for making the requirements for international graduates to stay on in the country more flexible, offering greater incentives to stay and work and even waiving English language and financial requirements for eligible applicants.
“The South Australian government is committed to continuing the growth of the international education sector by investing more into the sector than ever before,” David Ridgway, minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, said in the report.
“We are implementing programs and strategies that forge stronger engagement between international students and the future skills needed for South Australian industries.
“I am excited for the future and working with our world-class institutions to grow the international education industry for the benefit of all South Australians,” he added.
Additional reporting by Anton Crace