A strong incentive for overseas students to study in Australia is expectations from potential employers. In the globalized work environment, employers are looking for qualities such as cultural adaptability and bold decision making in the candidates. By virtue of enrolling in Australia international students display that they possess both these qualities. The workforce of a Multi-National Corporation is subject to periodic transfer from one work location to another. This could span the entire globe and hence an understanding of various cultures is a great asset. Those international students who come to Australia from developing countries such as India, Pakistan, China, South Korea and Eastern Europe are exposed to the capitalist-consumer culture prevalent in Australia to go along with their earlier experience in emerging economies. (Hassam, 2007, p.73) This makes them more suited to the trans-global nature of MNC operations. Moreover, employers are always looking for
“talents and characteristics that set candidates apart. The modern job market has witnessed study abroad emanating as a differentiating factor. The international student has displayed initiative that has led to an increased understanding of the world. In many cases, these applicants are more culturally aware and possess the adventurous spirit that lends to the productive, creative thinking necessary to excel in any organization or company.” (Martinez, 2011, p. 25)
Cultural, ethnic and national diversity within Australian campuses is another source of attraction to international students. Apart from the core syllabus, experiencing this diversity is an education by itself. This sort of education has its utility beyond considerations of employability. In other words, this extra-curricular experience prepares the international student for a life-time of interaction with people from various cultural, racial backgrounds.
“It fosters debate, generates mutual respect, and provides perspectives otherwise unfamiliar to students hailing from different areas of the world. Learning that takes place through dialogue can be just as pivotal to a group as lectures from a professor. Can a classroom really expect to generate a rewarding discussion about the theory of art, behavioral psychology, or the logistics of government without the viewpoints of the skilled musician from the inner city or the talented actress from suburbia? The same idea applies to learning that is done overseas; however, diversity is increased exponentially.” (Martinez, 2011, p. 25)
There is a strong political dimension to overseas student intake in Australian universities. The individual university board has limited powers in terms of setting quotas and eligibility criteria. But it is the broad governmental policy framework which is the engine behind the flourishing Australian education market. Like the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth government of Australia thinks of its international education project as a pillar of the country’s image to the rest of the world. The Colombo Plan was one such devise, whereby a substantial stream of students from south and south-east Asia were offered world class higher education in Australia since 1950. Today, educational links are sponsored directly “by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through AusAID scholarships and through funding agencies such as the Australia-Japan Foundation, the Australia-Indonesia Institute, the Australia-China Council and the Australia-India Council (2005).” (Trevelyan, 2010, p.101) This strong government involvement and interest is behind the success of Australia as a favoured overseas education destination.