International students not here to stay

Its course quality not migration that matters most

Migration expert Henry Sherrell has just left the Parliamentary Library to set up on his own – his final paper for the Library, with Hazel Ferguson, sets out the significance of international students to universities.

Between 2010 and 2017 overseas student revenue increased from 18 per cent of total uni revenue to 23 per cent, but it’s the share of revenue growth they provide which demonstrates how much they matter – from 28 per cent to 64 per cent over those years.

This makes it a market worth maintaining – which is, he explains, up to the unis ,which get no significant help from migration policy.

It’s a myth that “the median overseas student” is “motivated by permanent residency,” Mr Sherrell writes.

Some 16 per cent of all overseas students transitioned to permanent residency between 2001-14. “People can infer whatever they want from this but to me, it feels like Australian universities are responsible for both the successes and failures when it comes to attracting overseas students. Changes in visa policy are probably only responsible for very marginal effects.”


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