Educating the world

Queensland has more than 69,000 international students enrolled in its universities who generate $2 billion each year and add a range of social, cultural, economic and diplomatic benefits to our community.

International students enrolled across the state’s educational institutions generate $2 billion each year for Queensland’s fourth largest export industry.

And the numbers are growing.

University of Queensland (UQ) International director Andrew Everett says international student enrolments have risen by around 13 per cent this year, with revenue expected to be more than $170 million.

“The numbers can change but as a rough figure, there’s 8500 international students out of a student body of 38,000 – last year there were about 7500 international students, so they’re coming in faster than they’re graduating out,” says Everett.

“Courses vary in prices – for instance, your typical fees for medicine, where you need labs and equipment, are higher than for arts where you need a classroom – I would say international students bring in $170 million a year or more.

“When you add the multiplier effects, which the Queensland Government puts at about 3.2, then you have $500 million each year for the economy.”

The growth is now getting to the stage where the university is starting to consider just how large they can allow the international student body to be and what mix of cultures will be on campus.

“We continue to grow from here to the point where we need to have a clearly considered position about how big we want the international student population to be as a percentage of the overall student body,” he says.

“We have 125 countries represented on campus but how many from each country varies – for instance from China there’s hundreds as apposed to 62 from the UK.”

A Griffith University spokesperson says 8428 international students have enrolled this semester, out of 33,211 total student enrolments.

The university says it expects turnover to be in the vicinity of $124 million if every one of these students were to undertake the cheapest undergraduate course.

But this figure is likely to be substantially higher given the number of postgraduate students and more expensive undergraduate degrees.

Compared to Griffith and UQ, Queensland University of Technology has significantly fewer international students but revenue from overseas students rose by 18 per cent from 2007 to 2008, with 1157 enrolled last year. International student revenue in 2008 was $89 million.

An Education Queensland spokesperson says there are 69,243 international students enrolled state-wide, who bring a vast range of social, cultural, economic and diplomatic benefits.

“Queensland benefits from direct financial injections into accommodation, food industries, educational supplies, transport, gas and electricity services, telecommunications and domestic infrastructure,” he says.

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