INTERNATIONAL students comprise over a quarter of onshore enrolments at half of the Group of Eight, while one in three students at highly ranked Macquarie University is from overseas, a new Australian Education International report has found.
The AEI snapshot suggests Australia’s elite universities are heavily reliant on fragile overseas markets, with international students representing around 27 per cent of enrolments at Melbourne, ANU, UNSW and Adelaide.
The DEEWR-sourced data shows that the proportion of international students at all Go8 institutions apart from the University of Western Australia is above the national average of 22.3 per cent.
But international education researcher Alan Olsen said this was a reasonable average, and it was no surprise Go8 institutions were above it.
“An aggregate 22.3 per cent is appropriate for Australia, where 22.2 per cent of us were born overseas and 21.5 per cent speak a language other than English at home,” Mr Olsen said.
Mr Olsen said only around 8 per cent of people in the UK were born overseas, and about 12 per cent in the US.
A separate AEI report last month found that Australia’s proportion of international tertiary enrolments was more than three times the OECD average of 6.7 per cent, and six times the US average of 3.4 per cent.
But it found international students in the US were concentrated in about 25 highly ranked institutions, with two – Columbia and the University of Southern California – experiencing international proportions above the Australian average.
The international proportion of enrolments was 22.1 per cent at Stanford, 20 per cent at Cornell, 19.9 per cent at Georgia Institute of Technology and 18.4 per cent at Harvard, it added.
But these figures pale compared to some Australian universities, with the dual-sector University of Ballarat leading the pack at 47.7 per cent, followed by private Bond University at 40.5 per cent.
Ballarat has about 5600 domestic students and 5100 international students, according to the new AEI figures.
But Ballarat vice-chancellor David Battersby said the figures were “disingenuous” because they didn’t differentiate between dual-sector and standalone universities.
“They create a false impression about what a dual-sector university is, suggesting some sort of line in the sand between our higher education and VET students,” he said.
“That’s not the case – we have integrated schools. Why would they want to make the dual-sectors invisible in all this?”
Professor Battersby said Ballarat had a total of about 17,000 domestic students and an international proportion of about 22 per cent.
The AEI figures reveal above average international proportions at the other three Victorian dual-sectors – 32.8 per cent at Swinburne, 29.3 per cent at RMIT and 23.8 per cent at VU.
A DEEWR spokesperson said AEI had used information supplied by universities. “This ensures comparable data for all institutions,” he said.
“The table compares onshore international and domestic higher education students. [No] VET students were included for any university.”
Professor Battersby said most of Ballarat’s international students were with longstanding partners.
“While there has been a decline in our overall number of international students, our partner provider model has proven to be resilient,” he said.
Meanwhile, draft legislation for the tuition protection service – the new consumer protection facility for overseas students recommended by the Baird review – suggests universities will be required to sign up.
Universities and TAFEs have been exempted from paying fees to the existing ESOS Assurance Fund, and universities had lobbied for the arrangement to continue.
But Professor Battersby said the TPS needed to be seen as part of “a big package of arrangements” for international students including the Knight Review student visa reforms as well as changes stemming from the Baird Review.
Source : Australian