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Oz edu sector worried over downturn, blames immigration policy

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 - 20:08

Melbourne: Australia`s once booming
education sector is now bracing for tougher times with tighter
immigration rules and attacks on Indian students resulting in
falling enrolments, prompting experts and academics to
question the government`s policies.

The drop in enrolments of foreign students have
prompted leading universities across Australia to draw the
attention of the federal government to the issue.

The enrolments of foreign students dropped
significantly in Australia due to series of factors including
new immigration rules, a higher dollar value and attacks on
Indian students.

"What`s brewing here is deep frustration among
universities that recent government policy changes are
fuelling the drop-off in foreign students," eminent
commentator Horst Albert Glaser, emeritus professor at
Germany`s University of Duisburg-Essen, was quoted as saying
by `The Age`.

In an attempt to stamp out visa rorting, and weaken
the link between immigration and education, the federal
government last year introduced more stringent rules governing
student visas, and tightened immigration regulations.

This, the report said, has led to a slowdown in the
rate of foreign students starting courses.

It is believed that Australian universities relied on
the international student market for an average 16 per cent of
their total funding, and used much of that revenue to
cross-subsidise local students.

"If the university sector ends up in financial crisis
it is taxpayers who will be bailing them out," Stephen King,
dean of the business and economics faculty at Monash, said.

According to Melbourne University`s higher education
expert, Simon Marginson, the downturn was primarily due to
immigration policy changes, not due to drop in demand.

"This export industry cannot be expected to grow
forever. And the long-term quality and reputation of
Australian international education, including its commercial
capacity, depends on the resources we put into it," he said.

Melbourne University education economist Ross Williams
said the damage to universities will have a cascading effect
on the economy as rental markets will be affected and so will
ancillary services such as cafes around universities.

The trends were threatening a number of Universities
which hitherto relied on foreign students for a substantial
sum of revenue.

The likes of Central Queensland University which
relied on foreign students for 44 per cent of total revenue,
Monash University, Melbourne University, La Trobe University
and many others now in a vulnerable position.


First Published: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 - 20:08
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