Latin American students “flood” into Australia (and away from the USA)

Further to our 12 September entry on the strategic/aggressive approach Australia takes to drawing in foreign students for their higher education “industry”, The Australian has brief coverage of one paper (of hundreds) being given at the Australian International Education Conference (9-12 October). The story focuses on how Australia has exploited increasing resentment about US foreign policy in Latin America. The outcome has been a surge of post-secondary students to Australia, with fewer therefore heading to the USA. As the article, titled “US bar our gain as Latinos flood universities” states:

Today at the Australian International Education Conference in Melbourne, Ms Doorbar and Tony Crooks from the University of Melbourne will present the first study of the surge in Latin American student numbers.

At last count there were 17,676 students from Latin America enrolled at universities, TAFE institutes and English language colleges across the country, up from just 6914 in 2002.

“The greatest growth has been at the English language schools, with total English as a second language enrolments from Latin America increasing from 2837 to 9136 between August 2002 and August 2007,” Ms Doorbar said.

Higher education enrolments had also increased, going up 14.3per cent from 2006 and 23 per cent since the start of this year.

“Post-9/11 the US has made it very difficult for international students to study there,” Ms Doorbar said.

“There is no doubt that Australia has benefited from what the US has done.”

Geopolitical ironies aside, this is a story worth noting not only for the message, but also because it provides a small window on the emerging relationship between institutions including market players (e.g., Doorbar’s JWT, a firm that “builds BRANDS”), the internationalization units of universities, and various levels of government that have an eye on diversifying the services sector while building service export earnings. Events – marketing fairs, exhibitions, workshops and conferences – are also playing a key role in enabling actors to construct the global higher ed industry, piece by piece, albeit in a development process that is highly uneven on a myriad of levels.

Kris Olds

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