Degrees down under

Many Australians come here to study; how about making the journey the other way?

By Lucy Hodges
Thursday 28 November 2002 01:00
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Watch out, the Aussies are coming. In fact, they've already arrived. Australian universities have set up an office in London to try to entice British students to fly halfway round the world to take their degrees down under. And it seems to be working: the number of British students in Australian higher education has risen by 524, or 44 per cent, over this time last year.

The figures suggest that the events of 11 September 2001 do not seem to have deterred British students from looking abroad for higher education. "In fact, Australia has become an even safer place as a result," says Ms Lindy Hyam, the chief executive of IDP Education Australia, the organisation that promotes Australian education in the UK.

But why the sudden increase? It's because the Australians established an office in the UK, she says, concentrating on attracting postgraduate and gap-year students. Until a year ago Australia regarded its overseas student market as largely within Asia, but since then they have expanded into Latin America, the Middle East, the USA and Europe.

Australia's big competitors in the overseas student market are the USA and the UK, both of which have a larger share. But the battle to sign up overseas students is heating up as countries realise how much money is to be made out of attracting students from abroad. Not only do they pay tuition fees, they also contribute to the economy generally through spending on food, accommodation and leisure.

The big question is whether the bombings in Bali last month will halt the rise in UK students going to Australia. Ms Hyam says there is as yet no indication that the bombings are having any effect. "We have had no drop-off in inquiries," she says. "In fact we have had an increase."

It used to be the case that Australian students would come to study in Britain, and they still do – in about the same numbers as the total of British students now going to Australia, according to Ms Hyam. So the Australians have achieved parity.

The UK students, who are studying subjects right across the curriculum, are concentrated at universities in New South Wales, the biggest state, whose capital city is Sydney. "An Australian degree represents a good return on investment," says Ms Hyam. Masters degrees in Australia cost between £4,000 and £8,000, which makes them competitive with a British Masters, she says.

Find out more about studying down under by logging on to www.idp.com or call 020-7380 6767.

l.hodges@independent.co.uk

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