Proposed changes to the Federal Government’s tertiary education funding arrangements could result in a lower proportion of income from foreign students.
Figures published in The Age suggest that many universities receive up to 30 per cent of their income from international students, and 15 per cent of new arrivals on Australian soil are motivated by education.
Disregarding this, CEO of Tourism Australia John O’Sullivan said that overseas students are not an area of interest, during a G20 news conference in Brisbane.
“Tourism … is a very important super sector for the Australian economy. It has been named … as one of the five growth sectors of the new Australian economy, along with agribusiness, international education, banking and also gas,” he said.
“Education, which accounts for around 15 per cent of new arrivals into our country internationally year on year, is also a very important driver as part of the sector itself.”
However, when asked if recently announced changes to education funding would affect international arrivals, he said it was not an area that Tourism Australia was focusing on.
“Our focus is on the leisure tourists; so our focus is on people who want to come here for a holiday and people who want to come and visit friends and relatives whilst they are here.
“What we have seen over the last period of time … is consistent growth across the board of about 8-9 per cent.”
This statement comes as the Federal government signals its intention to de-regulate local tertiary education funding.
Subsequently, universities are considering raising fees for domestic students to potentially provide better services and more advanced research.
Figures in The Australian suggest that the total outlay for some domestic students studying an undergraduate law degree could reach $95,220, while international student fees would likely remain unaffected.
Allyson Lim, an international student from Malaysia, said “If prices increased too much, I would probably end up just going to the UK or America.”
Tourism Australia is focusing marketing campaigns in high-growth Asian countries such as China, whose market projections by 2020 exceed $13 billion.
In addition, the organisation acknowledged the importance of environmental sustainability in preserving Australia’s natural landmarks, but declined to comment on specific issues.
“One of the things that is core to our marketing activities and what our research shows us is that our natural assets and our world‑class beauty is one of the key things that we [use to]promote the country,” said Mr O’Sullivan.
The G20 summit continues until Sunday 16 November.