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University funding cuts risk export income

Australia’s income has become even more reliant on the quality of our university sector, ratcheting up the risk that university funding cuts would erode our future national earnings.

The nation’s export earnings from educating international students grew by 16 per cent to $28.6 billion in 2016-17, the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures reveal.

Around two-thirds of that income is generated by the nation’s universities. It includes spending by international students on tuition fees, tutoring, accommodation, food, living expenses and tourism in Australia.

Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said this was another stark warning that university funding cuts would be “an act of economic self-harm for Australia”.

“Safeguarding the quality of our universities is absolutely essential to sustaining Australian jobs and living standards,” she said.

“The proposed funding cuts before the Senate would damage the quality of the education and research which attracts international students to Australia over other nations.”

There were 480,092 international students in Australia in March 2017 – 30 per cent from China, 11 per cent from India, and 4 per cent each from Malaysia, Vietnam and Nepal.

A 2016 survey by the Australian Government confirmed the reputation of the Australian education system was their top reason that international students gave for choosing to study here.

Data from 2016 also confirms the enormous contribution made by international students to the economies of each State and Territory across Australia.

International education contributes $8 billion to New South Wales, $7 billion to Victoria, $3.2 billion for Queensland, $1.5 billion to Western Australia and $1.1 billion to South Australia.

It also added $579 million to the ACT economy, $236 million to Tasmania and $81 million to the Northern Territory.

Source: Universities Australia

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