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Leave China, Australian universities should unite to attract more Indian students

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But critics warn that India will never become a strong alternative to China for Australia’s leading universities because, although the country has the largest tertiary population in the world, it does not have the same level of wealth.

Senior university officials joined Education Minister Dan Taehan on a visit to India this week to promote Australia’s proposals amid concerns that the sector is too financially dependent on Chinese students.

In a report commissioned by the government published during the visit, Australia was the second most popular destination for Indian students after the United States: in 2017, the country enrolled nearly 52,000 people.

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The number of Indian students studying at Australian universities grew by 33% between 2017 and 2018 and continued to grow this year: 500 more visas were issued in September compared to the same period last year.

Indian students are more motivated by visa schemes that allow them to work than Chinese students. But the UK has recently relaxed its rules of procedure, which could lead to increased competition for Australian universities.

The report says Australia’s efforts to attract Indian students were also accidental, and institutions tended to engage in their own marketing.

«[This] may complicate attempts to spread the message across the country and promote the systemic quality of Australia’s brand, ”the report said. Indians also perceived Australia’s education system as unimportant.

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“Indian students who earn higher degrees in research tend to choose US or UK universities that are considered more prestigious,” the statement said.

But Andrew Norton, a professor of higher education practice at the ANU Center for Social Research and Methods, said better marketing would not stop leading universities from struggling to attract enough Indian students to reduce their dependence on China.

“China is a much richer country than India and can afford more,” he said. “It is quite rational to try to diversify, it is just difficult, given the large population [of China] relative to other countries and wealth ”.

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Professor Norton also said there was little research on the performance of Indian students. “Their English is on average better than Chinese [students]but I’ve heard reports that their failure rate is higher, “he said.” This may be due to the lower quality of Indian universities, especially for graduate students who may not be as prepared as they should be. “

There are already concerns about the implications of softening the Chinese market for local universities. A recent letter to Macquarie University Vice-Chancellor Bruce Dowton said his institution was beginning to feel the effects of the UK’s decision to ease visa requirements, as well as Australian government incentives for students to study at regional universities.

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