New figures released by the federal Department of Education revealed 8.2 per cent fewer overseas students commencing studies this year in WA, the only state to record a decline.
The number of new international students climbed by 7.7 per cent in Victoria, 7 per cent in Queensland and 6.3 per cent in New South Wales.
A row erupted in parliament on Thursday after the state government promised to introduce a pathway for high-achieving foreign graduates to migrate.
Photo: Nic Walker
"Western Australia has missed out on 2877 students because we have lost our share to the east coast, but we also have not been part of the growth internationally in this space. That is worth $959 million to the Western Australian community," she said.
"It is affecting our economy, jobs and employment. It is also affecting our tourism figures, because for every student who does enrol at one of our universities, we lose five trips from their family every year.
Shadow Tourism Minister Libby Mettam said the state government's decision to remove Perth from the regional sponsored migration scheme axed an important incentive for international students to come to WA.
"Two weeks after coming to government, the first decisions of the McGowan government were to remove Perth from the regional sponsored migration scheme, thereby removing the incentive for students to study here, and to reduce the number of jobs on the state’s skills list from 178 to 18," she said.
"That now means that WA has to compete against states like Queensland, which has 114 jobs on its skills list, and Tasmania, which has 161."
Premier Mark McGowan said the government would spend $2 million on a strategy for attracting international students to WA in addition to introducing the migration list for higher degree graduates.
"We need to send a message to the world that we welcome international students, and their friends and families," he said.
Education Minister Sue Ellery told parliament the number of international students projected to migrate under the new scheme was "currently under negotiation with the Commonwealth Department of Home Affairs".
She said the $2 million strategy would be released in coming months.
Story Credit to link below: