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Western Australia reveals $41.2m package for international education

Western Australia has announced a $41.2 million package designed to build a pipeline of future onshore international students and re-engage international education agents, the state’s government has announced. The package, revealed on May 12, also features financial support measures.

Western Australia postponed a plan to open borders on February 5 as a result of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 before opening in March. Photo: pexels

StudyPerth described the news as a "great win" for the state's international education sector

Over four years, $4m has been allocated for the Premier’s WA Certificate of Education Bursary and $2m for the the Premier’s University Scholarships – both new scholarship programs.

A $10m incentive package will aim to increase awareness of the state’s international education sector through overseas education agents who enrol international students in WA institutions.

A $1m familiarisation program will also allow key offshore stakeholders to visit and experience Western Australia.

“International education is an important economic sector for Western Australia and the McGowan government is strongly committed to supporting the industry as it continues to reconnect with international partners,” said WA International Education minister David Templeman.

“We have consulted extensively with the international education sector over the past few months and have based this package on their input.”

StudyPerth described the news as a “great win” for the state’s international education sector.

“We are delighted with the WA government’s significant investment in international education and believe it is critical for rebuilding confidence in the sector,” StudyPerth CEO Derryn Belford said.

“An important part of this investment is re-engaging with our international markets and partners to raise awareness of Perth as a fantastic study destination.

“But perhaps even more importantly, it provides a range of direct incentives to encourage students who may be considering other locations to ultimately choose Perth.

“There is a strong focus on empowering our education agents with information,” she added. “We know they play an important role in the decision-making process for international students so we want to equip them with first-hand knowledge about Perth and ensuring they have an opportunity to experience Perth for themselves.”

Other initiatives include $6.8m for the continuation of the ELICOS Bursary and the International Student Accommodation Subsidy to attract international students to WA, a $4.5m boost to StudyPerth to ensure students are welcomed and supported in the state, and $3m for the WA Technical and Vocational Education and Training Consortium to support the development of offshore opportunities and student pipeline creation.

Earlier in 2022, StudyPerth relaunched its Airport Welcome Service for six week as it prepared to welcome students back to the state. It has also opened a Student Hub that is designed to enhance the experiences of international students.

“We recognise that supporting international students who are living away from home is very important. We’ve worked hard to improve our support services and central to this is our new StudyPerth International Student Hub located centrally in the Perth CBD,” Belford noted.

“It has been designed especially with international students in mind – as a home away from home. It’s a place they can study, meet friends, ask for support if needed – but most importantly, it’s about creating a community hub here in the city.”

“We have consulted extensively with the international education sector over the past few months”

A total of $8m over four years will allow onshore and offshore staffing to implement the new initiatives, and $1.5m has been allotted to “extend the global international education marketing campaign”.

Additionally $400,000 will create a school support program to “encourage international students studying within the schools sector to continue their student journey with a WA education provider”.

“The aim is to build a pipeline of future onshore international students, re-engage the international education agent network and provide financial support for the sector to ensure its continued growth,” Templeman added.

“This package builds on existing incentives, including the $195 million Reconnect WA package, which are working to boost international education in Western Australia.”

The Reconnect WA package featured a $65m aviation fund to re-establish flight routes that were disrupted by the pandemic, in addition to targeting new routes with Germany, India, China and Vietnam.

A total of $65m was invested in a marketing campaign to promote the state as safe and full of opportunity, on top of additional incentives for students. The first 5,000 students to choose the state as their study destination were rewarded with up to $1,500 in accommodation support.

“Our commitment to this important sector is all part of the McGowan government’s diversification plans to further strengthen the WA economy for the long-term,” Templeman continued.

“The recently announced WA government package for International Education is a welcome investment in rebuilding the sector after a long period of closed borders,” director of the Centre for English Language Teaching at The University of Western Australia Callum Cowell told The PIE.

“WA was closed off from the world for longer than other states in Australia and then with the planned opening of WA in February further delayed at the last moment, the state government has recognised the disruption and damage done to the sector and the need to restore confidence in the recruitment pipeline, through targeted incentives and strong proactive promotion of the benefits of choosing WA.”

The Premier’s University Scholarships will provide $50,000 in funding for 10 one-year scholarships that target “high-achieving international students” to the state’s five universities.

As part of the WA Certificate of Education Bursary, 50 offshore WACE graduates from WA’s international partner schools will be granted $20,000 per annum.

The range of scholarship and bursaries help support international students in Perth – from covering course fees to providing financial support that specifically addresses cost of living pressures, Belford added.

Templeman will also be joining deputy premier Roger Cook on a state government mission to India in July. The multi-sector mission is aiming to “unlock opportunities” for Western Australian business in the Indian market, increase connectivity between Western Australia and India, and promote Western Australia as a destination for tourists, students, talent, events, business and investment.

“I sincerely hope that this sets a new funding quantum or paradigm for the WA government to apply well into the future”

Cowell also hopes that the next period of stronger investment by state government “be a blueprint for how government can work together with providers to amplify our message to students seeking a high-quality study abroad destination”.

“Whilst it is a package of support offered to the sector as a Covid response measure, I sincerely hope that this sets a new funding quantum or paradigm for the WA government to apply well into the future: one where the importance of International Education, tourism and other service exports are not lost in the wake of the usual government focus on the mining and resources sector,” he noted.

“The disruption to the student pipeline due to Covid has heightened the awareness and understanding of International Education’s diversifying impact on WA’s economy and the important role it plays in connecting West Australians with the world.”

“StudyPerth hosts a range of fun and engaging events for the international student community to help them make those important social and business connections in Perth, prepare for employment opportunities once their studies are complete but also to help them experience this amazing destination they have chosen to call home,” Belford concluded.

 

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