Western Australia’s government has unveiled a $41.2 million package to establish a pipeline of prospective onshore foreign students and re-engage international education agents. The plan, which was unveiled on May 12, also includes financial assistance measures.
Over the next four years, the Premier’s WA Certificate of Education Bursary will receive $4 million, while the Premier’s University Scholarships will get $2 million. A $10 million incentive package will be offered to overseas education agents who enrol international students in WA universities in order to raise awareness of the state’s international education sector. A $1 million familiarisation initiative will also allow important stakeholders from outside the country to visit and experience Western Australia.
“Overseas education is a vital economic sector for Western Australia, and the McGowan administration is strongly committed to assisting the industry as it reconnects with international partners,” said David Templeman, WA Minister for International Education.
“Over the past three months, we have conducted extensive consultations with the foreign education sector, and this package is based on their feedback.”
According to StudyPerth, the development is a “huge win” for the state’s foreign education sector. Other initiatives include $6.8 million to continue the ELICOS Bursary and the International Student Accommodation Subsidy to attract international students to WA, $4.5 million to StudyPerth to ensure students are welcomed and supported in the state, and $3 million to the WA Technical and Vocational Education and Training Consortium to support the development of offshore opportunities and the creation of student pipelines.
Earlier in 2022, as it prepared to welcome students back to the state, StudyPerth revived its Airport Welcome Service for a six-week period. It has also developed a Student Hub to improve the experiences of international students. A total of $8 million will be spent over four years to undertake the new projects, with $1.5 million set aside to “expand the global international education marketing campaign.”
A school support programme will also be established with $400,000 to “promote overseas students studying in the school’s sector to continue their student adventure with a WA education provider.”
“The goal is to create a pipeline of prospective onshore international students, re-engage the international education agent network, and give financial assistance to assure the sector’s sustained growth,” Templeman noted.
“This package builds on existing incentives, such as the $195 million Reconnect WA package, which are aimed at increasing international education in Western Australia.”
The Reconnect WA package included a $65 million aviation fund to re-establish flight lines damaged by the pandemic, as well as new routes with Germany, India, China, and Vietnam. A total of $65 million was invested in a marketing campaign to advertise the state as safe and full of opportunity, in addition to further student incentives. The first 5,000 students who chose the state as their study location received up to $1,500 in housing assistance.
“Our commitment to this key sector is all part of the McGowan government’s long-term diversification ambitions for the WA economy,” Templeman added.
“The recently announced WA government package for International Education is a welcome investment in rebuilding the sector after a lengthy period of closed borders,” Callum Cowell, director of The University of Western Australia’s Centre for English Language Teaching, told The PIE.
“WA was cut off from the rest of the world for a longer period of time than other states in Australia, and with the planned opening of WA in February being postponed at the last minute, the state government has recognised the disruption and damage done to the sector, as well as the need to restore confidence in the recruitment pipeline, through targeted incentives and strong proactive promotion of the benefits of choosing WA.”
The Premier’s University Scholarships will grant $50,000 in financing for ten one-year scholarships at the state’s five institutions for “high-achieving international students.” The WA Certificate of Education Bursary will provide $20,000 per year to 50 offshore WACE graduates from WA’s international partner schools.
In addition, Templeman will accompany Deputy Premier Roger Cook on a state government visit to India in July. The multi-sector mission aims to “unlock the potential” for Western Australian businesses in the Indian market, improve connections between Western Australia and India, and promote Western Australia as a tourist, student, talent, events, business, and investment destination.
Cowell also expects that the next round of increased state government support will “provide a roadmap for how government might collaborate with providers to reinforce our message to students seeking a high-quality study abroad location.”
“While it is a package of support offered to the sector as a Covid response measure,” he said, “I sincerely hope that this establishes a new funding quantum or paradigm for the WA government to apply well into the future: one where the importance of International Education, tourism, and other service exports is not lost in the wake of the usual government focus on the mining and resources sector.”
“The disruption to the student pipeline caused by Covid has raised awareness and knowledge of International Education’s broadening impact on WA’s economy, as well as the critical role it plays in linking West Australians with the rest of the world.”
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