There are numerous favourable reasons why international students opt to study in Australia. A review of the literature pertaining to the topic published over the last 5 years throws light on these reasons. Some of the major reasons include cost-effectiveness, multi-racial academic environment, prospects for employment after graduation, precedent of successful immigrant integration into society, government support for overseas students, etc. But the review also revealed how there are some issues of racism and political conservatism that discourage international student enrolment. Nevertheless, on balance, the favourable reasons outnumber and outweigh the drawbacks. The rest of this paper will highlight the array of reasons why international students choose to study in Australia, while also indicating the negative factors gleaned from the research.
It is a reflection of the attractiveness of Australia as a centre for higher studies that it ranks third among a dozen competing nations in the market for overseas education. On the latest available statistics,
“the education market grew 77 percent worldwide in the decade beginning in the year 2000. Australia is engaged in an ongoing race for the maximisation of its share. Currently it ranks third, equal with Germany at seven percent share of the total number of international students worldwide. The US and the UK are first and second respectively, at 18 percent and 9.9 percent. France is after Germany and Australia and has 6.3 percent, while Canada has 4.7 percent.” (Ramia, Marginson, & Sawir, 2013)
Australia is one of few countries that have a specialized welfare program for its international students during the entirety of their stay. Except for neighbouring New Zealand, no other leading country in the overseas education market has taken to this direct regulation approach. In countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, generic laws pertaining to universities and life on campus also govern the safety and behaviour of international students. In Australia, there is the robust Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Framework that serves as the main instrument of regulation within the campus. After having been enacted into law in 2000, the ESOS Act offers a comprehensive set of guidelines for universities in the National Code of Practice for Registration Authorities and Training to Overseas Students of 2001 (or the ‘National Code’). While international students find the protections and rights provided by these laws and codes as attractive, some social phenomena of recent years has given cause for apprehension. As a result, public debate rages on about student life in Australia, with concerns beign raised about honouring international students’ human rights. This controversy was intensified by
“a series of violent attacks in Melbourne and Sydney on students mainly from India, though other Asian students have also fallen victim, and not only in the larger cities. Yet ESOS has little to do with racism or personal safety. More avid followers of international education point to issues stemming from students migrating permanently upon the completion of their studies. Other matters include the protection of student tuition fees, public transport concessions and problems for students in accessing adequate housing and health care.” (Ramia, Marginson, & Sawir, 2013)