Is Australia too expensive for Overseas Students?

| 02/09/2013 | 0 Comments

A new research shows that Australia is the costliest place for overseas students.

Costing an average foreign student $US38,000 a year, Australia has emerged on top of HSBC’s study of the most expensive countries for higher education. However, the HSBC research includes the caveat that a recently depreciating currency would ultimately reduce the cost of tertiary studies in the country.

“While Australia has continued to enjoy higher economic growth than other western markets over the past five years, this has also led to a higher Australian dollar which has placed a strain on the price competitiveness of our export sectors, including education,” said Graham Heunis, head of retail banking and wealth management for HSBC Australia.

HSBC’s list ranks Australia past the US and UK, where expatriates cough up $US35,000 and $US30,000, respectively, for tertiary education.

In the time since the Australian dollar topped $US1 in 2010, foreign student enrolments in Australia have dropped nearly 20 percent, according to Australian Education International.

Swinging back

But this trend appears to be impermanent in the face of the recent devaluation of the Australian currency against the greenback. Since April, the Australian dollar has fallen by more than 13 percent to trade between $US0.90 and $US0.93.

National Australia Bank predicts that the Australian dollar will eventually tumble to $US0.80 by December 2014. Similarly, HSBC expects the currency to slip to $US0.86 by the end of this year.

“Having withstood the cost pressure of the high Australian dollar for the past three years, Australia’s tertiary institutions could see international student numbers swing back with the falling Australian dollar,” Heunis said.

On top of the Australian dollar’s depreciation, HSBC cites the country’s newly streamlined visa processing method as another potential attraction to foreign enrolees.

Traditionally Australia has been a dream choice for thousands of students from nearby Asia. As in Australia, the cost of tertiary education in Asian countries has become steeper in recent years, a fact that checks out with the HSBC report. Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore have all vaulted among the list’s ten costliest destinations.

Unlike Australia, however, not many hotbeds of tertiary education in Asia offer such perks as the right to work in the country, both during and after completion of studies. Moreover, the Australian government has initiated the Tuition Protection Service, which basically protects the tuition fees of overseas students.

Brand of excellence

Australia’s prestige is in itself an incentive to students the world over. The Commonwealth Blue Ensign might as well be a brand of excellence in the minds of millions, and Australian institutions have more than lived up to the hype.

To qualify for international admissions, an Australian institution has to uphold stringent standards, ensuring that the curriculum and amenities keep abreast with the best there is. An institution accredited for accepting foreign students is capable of making certain they assimilate well into Australia-style schooling.

Every accredited institution supports expats in all aspects of student life by way of its specialised International Office. Through it, the institution can offer legal services, accommodation, and career counselling, among many other privileges. An accredited institution can also smooth the progress of transition by giving and pointing access to places of worship; sports clubs; fitness centres; and other amenities.

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