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Overseas student numbers decrease due to high costs in Australia

10-16-2013 20:37 BJT

By CCTV correspondent Hannah Belcher

As the Australian Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, prepares for his first state visit to China, many students focus on the growing education ties between the two countries. Australia has long been a popular study destination due to its close proximity to Asia. But Asian students are feeling its increasingly high cost of living. A recent report by the HSBC bank found Australia is now the most expensive place in the world to study. Australian and New Zealand universities have also slumped in the latest Times Higher Education rankings. Experts in Australia’s tertiary sector are warning against complacency.

Sydney University engineering student Zhan Zhenglin is calculating his weekly expenses on a budget app. His parent’s send money from China to cover the basics - fees, transport, food and rent. Sydney rent is high. Zhan has to closely watch what he spends.
“Money for rent a room, for here where I live maybe three hundred a week and in China maybe just three hundred for a month.” said Zhan Zhenglin, Student, Sydney University.

Zhan Zhenglin is one of a growing number of international students grappling with the costly Australian lifestyle.

A recent HSBC bank study found that it’s now the most expensive country in the world to study.

Foreign students pay more than 42,000 dollars a year on average to study at Australian universities. The US is not far behind, with an average yearly cost of around 39,000 dollars. But the UK is much cheaper, at just over 33,000 dollars.

Australia’s high dollar and economic growth are the culprits. The dollar has come down this year, but not nearly enough.

"Since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, the Australian dollar has been at record highs, which has put strain on the price competitiveness of the country’s export sectors, including education." said Hannah Belcher, Sydney, Australia.

Jay Ng and her fellow students say word has got out that studying in Australia is expensive. Peers back in Hong Kong and China are considering other destinations. She says not all Chinese students are rich.

“I’ve met students who struggle to make a living here, living in really like overcrowded accommodation and they have to work in cash in hand jobs to afford to live here, which is illegal.” said Jay Ng, International Student, Sydney University.

Australian Universities are well aware of the problem. Overseas student numbers have dropped 12 percent in recent years. The government is hoping its new streamlined visa process will help.

Sydney University says Australia must focus on maintaining and delivering quality.

“There’s no doubt that the strength of the Australian dollar has certainly changed the cost to a student coming to Australia in general, and obviously coming to the University of Sydney but that’s a factor that’s really outside of our control. What is not outside of our control is the quality of the student experience that we’re able to offer when the students are here.” said Tyrone Carlin, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Sydney University.

Almost a third of Australia’s overseas students are from China. With tertiary education a major global business, the country can’t afford to have unhappy customers seeking better deals elsewhere.

 

Editor:James |Source: CCTV.com

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