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John Aitken, CEO Brisbane Marketing, Australia

The city of Brisbane is shifting the focus of its international education strategy towards a longer-term vision of becoming a place for students to stay, work and build their own businesses. CEO of Brisbane Marketing, John Aitken talks to The PIE News about the future of the city.

The PIE: What is Brisbane’s international education strategy?

JA: One of the things that we’re looking for is maximising the length of stay of international students. When we started Study Brisbane back in 2008 the initial conversation was around ensuring that Brisbane as a community was doing all it possibly could around logistics of the welcoming experience for international students.

Over the last few years the Lord Mayor and I and the institutions have been talking more around what can be done about extending the stay. Now graduates can actually stay for a further two years to work, and that’s a fairly significant change. It’s no longer about the duration of the course and the course fee; it’s actually about what does the student offer socially, culturally and most importantly economically as well.

It’s no longer about the duration of the course and the course fee; it’s actually about what does the student offer socially, culturally and most importantly economically as well.

The PIE: And do many students stay on and work in Brisbane after graduating?

JA: Yes. About 80% of our students are from the Asia region. And we’re seeing a trend that wherever the students go, you’re actually seeing the follow through of investment flow as well, mainly around the property sector.

The PIE: Are there certain types of jobs that international students typically do?

JA: Like any students the service industry sector becomes the first one while they’re doing their graduate course, but then from beyond there it’s built totally around their course. We’ve got students that have gone into HR companies, they’re working for the major professional service sector companies, they’re working for mining companies and planning companies.

It’s not come to Brisbane and be a taxi driver, it’s actually a very broad, diverse opportunity

There’s an enormous amount of medical research and health work that’s done here as well, we have a big uptake of not only international students but scientists from all over the world. So there’s huge opportunities. It’s not come to Brisbane and be a taxi driver, it’s actually a very broad, diverse opportunity.

The PIE: And how are you making Brisbane an attractive place for these students?

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