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Deeper education, skills ties of China- Australia sought

02-22-2012 09:30 BJT

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A record number of Chinese students are heading overseas, according to the latest data from China's Ministry of Education. That's of particular interest to Australia, where education remains the country's second-largest services sector, just behind tourism. But over the past year, a strong local currency has meant fewer and fewer Chinese students are opting to go Down Under. On his trip to Beijing, Senator Chris Evans - Australian Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research - sat down with our Haidi Lun. He spoke about his plans for deepening engagement with China, beyond the mining boom.

A record number of China's best and brightest are heading overseas. Fresh figures from the Ministry of Education show, China sent 340,000 students abroad last year. That's 20 percent more, compared to 2010.

For Australia, this figure is something of a bittersweet milestone. In just one year, Australia's international education sector lost close to two billion Australia dollars in revenue. Last year, Australia saw a decline of 15 percent in Chinese students coming to the country. That's largely thanks to a stubbornly-high local dollar, which makes the country an increasingly expensive destination for international students.

Chris Evans, the Australian Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, says it's about quality - not quantity.

China has a burgeoning middle class, growing incomes, a traditional reverence for education and fierce competition when it comes to limited domestic university spots. All of this represent enormous untapped growth potential for overseas institutions.

Haidi Lun said:" Education has always been one of the key areas of exchange between China and Australia. Some 40 percent of international students in Australia are, in fact, Chinese. But a two-speed economy, slowing Chinese growth and a strong local dollar, means the Australian government is hoping that education and skills training will become a two-way street."

And part of that strategy is sending more Australian students to study in China.

In the meantime, Australian universities are courting Chinese students -and parents - in myriad new ways, to boost those enrolment numbers. The University of Sydney has begun accepting scores from China's national college entrance exam - the gaokao - in its admissions process.

China's Ministry of Commerce estimates, around 1.1 million of the country's students are currently studying abroad. Since China's reform and opening-up program in 1978, 2.2 million Chinese have received either undergraduate or postgraduate degrees overseas.


Editor:Bai Yang |Source: CNTV.CN

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