valuable overseas students to other states following last year’s decision by the incoming McGowan Labor
government to slash migration incentives.
Nearly all WA universities are expected to suffer a fall in the number of international students commencing study
this year, in sharp contrast to the education export boom in other states.
International education is Australia’s third largest export industry and revenue is growing at 20 per cent a year.
After winning office in March last year, Premier Mark McGowan’s government gave in to a union push to cut
skilled migration by ending the migra tion points advantage for immigrants wanting to settle in WA under the
Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme.
Education agents are now recommending to migrationfocused
students that they study in South Australia, the
Northern Territory or Tasmania, where they can still get the fivepoint
“SA, the NT and Tasmania all celebrated when the WA government withdrew the regional migration points,” said
Phil Honey wood, chief executive of the International Education Association of Australia. “They saw advantage
coming to their state to the detriment of WA.”
Robynne Walsh, principal of Perth English language school Phoenix Academy, said the government decision had
severe consequences. “It is a concern to many in the sector and it’s been devastating because Adelaide is still on the
list,” she said.
The only WA university expected to increase the number of its commencing international students this year is the
Univer sity of Western Australia, which has opened up more places to Chinese students that were limited in the past.
Even before the full impact of the government’s skilled migra tion decision was felt, the number of new international
students choosing to study in WA was declining.
According to the latest Department of Education and Training figures, which capture international enrolments to
November 2017, WA was the only jurisdiction where overseas commencements declined last year.
The number of new students in the state fell by 7 per cent, compared with the first 11 months of 2016, despite
growth of 11 per cent across Australia. Commencements rose by 11 per cent in NSW and Queensland, 15 per cent in
Victoria, 20 per cent in the ACT and 38 per cent in Tasmania. South Australia and the Northern Territory
experienced more modest growth of 5 per cent and 3 per cent respectively.
Mr McGowan rejected the charge that his clampdown on skilled migration was to blame for the international student
slump in his state.
“Perth is excluded from the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme, as are other major cities such as Brisbane,
Sydney and Melbourne — yet Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria remain wildly popular destinations for
international students,” Mr McGowan said.
“This suggests lower international student numbers in WA can’t simply be linked to Perth’s exclusion from the
The Premier blamed the previous Liberal government’s failure to develop an international education strategy.
“While disappointing, this means there is plenty of scope for improvement,” he said.
Mr McGowan said his government had allocated $2 million over five years to boost WA’s market share, and his first
official dele gation to China last year was aimed at raising tourist and inbound student numbers.
Queensland has allocated $37m over four years to international student marketing, while Victoria has set aside
$35m. Victoria also has 12 fulltime
education counsellors recruiting for the state across Asia, while WA has none.
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