05 February 2009

Australia and the U.S. continue to battle for foreign students

For the past three years, Koreans have dominated the demographics of international students in America, reports The Korea Times, and their biggest competitors - Indians - are now starting to choose Australia as their destination of choice for study.

Last year, the number of Korean students in America hit record heights, with 110,000 on American student visas, which amounted to 15.2 per cent of all foreign students studying in America.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said between 2005 and 2007, the percentage increase of Koreans in America reached double digits, while in 2008 is merely reached 6.5 per cent.

Following Koreans, Indians, Chinese, Japanese and Canadians dominated the 722,272-strong international student population.

Meanwhile, Australia has been tipped to become a more popular destination than America for Indian students.  Over the past five years, the number of Indian students on an Australian student visa increased from 13,000 students to 85,026, showing a massive upsurge in the trend to choose Australia over any other international destination.

While the number of Indian students in the US increased by 13 per cent last year, it is traditionally the most popular choice for Indian international students.  In comparison, the number of Indian students attending Australian universities increased by 51 per cent over the same period.

Kelly Raj, educational counsellor with the Australian high commission in New Delhi, said the migration prospects, excellent education, cheaper cost of living and lesser fees are the attractions for Indian students to move to Australia.

"The quality of education offered in Australia, along with the nation’s open, friendly, multicultural society, generous work rights (students can work for up to 20 hours a week during their course and full-time during holidays), potential for migration, and exposure to research facilities have combined to boost the numbers," he said.

The most popular choices of courses for the Indian students are Vocational Education and Training (VET)-based courses, which involve management, commerce, engineering, food, hospitality, and personal services, according to figures from the Australian Education International. 

Admission figures also show that the number of international students applying for VET courses in Australia doubled from 2007 to 2008, and this has largely been attributed to lower course fees in Australia than the US, the UK or Europe.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.

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