Overseas squeeze makes up for losses elsewhere

Data showing that Australian universities have continued to increase their revenue from overseas fees despite recent falls in applications have prompted a debate over rising charges.

May 24, 2012

Australian higher education institutions increased their income from overseas students by almost A$1 billion (£624 million) last year, according to information from the country's Bureau of Statistics quoted in The Australian news-paper. Despite this, the overall amount of money earned by the country from such students fell by A$2.2 billion.

This suggests that universities are maintaining fee income despite a much-publicised drop in student numbers in the past two years - while other sectors, such as retail, are suffering.

One explanation being put forward is that universities across the country are increasing their overseas fees, which is helping to cushion the blow of a crisis in demand prompted in part by government visa rules that have now been relaxed.

But Simon Marginson, professor of higher education at the University of Melbourne, said that international fees were always on the rise to aid universities losing income from domestic students.

"The universities need to increase unit revenues from international students because they need the funding rate supplied...to compensate for the fact that the majority of domestic places are funded below real cost," he said.

He added that the federal government had just introduced an expansion of the domestic system, therefore increasing the overall loss to universities of supporting Australian students.

Although question marks remain over whether continuing fee hikes will have their own deterrent effect on students travelling to Australia from key markets such as China and India, Professor Marginson was sanguine that this will not be the case.

"There is no evidence that [international student] movements are due to marginal price changes," he said. "Student numbers are governed by supply - visas granted and [applicants] accepted - and on the demand side primarily by large-scale influences, such as where the education agents in China advise students to go."

simon.baker@tsleducation.com.

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy