Publisher’s letter: The Extended Benefit of our education industry


It has long been acknowledged that Australia’s education industry is our third, if not second largest export industry to China. In Victoria it is clearly our number one export with China and similar with Queensland and NSW.
I recently saw statistics that 75,000 Chinese students studied in England in 2009 and the figures from the Chinese embassy in Australia quote 140,000 Chinese students studying in Australia in 2009. We tend to equate these facts with the successful relationships most of Australia’s universities have established with the ongoing need and urge by Chinese families for their children to be educated overseas. That, followed by our universities now having extensive mutual partnership arrangements with the fast growing number of quality Chinese universities.
Yet, the success of Australia’s education industry with China has extended far beyond our universities. It starts with the large number of young Chinese students coming to Australia, joining our secondary colleges, entering our education system at a much younger age and giving them an advantage to enter higher education.
And it goes both ways.
A unique example is Caulfield Grammar School in Melbourne, which built its own campus in Nanjing 11 years ago, enabling Year 9 and 11 students to experience a six-week study trip to China. Not to ignore the great success of many of Australia’s vocational institutions, which are not only increasing their intake of Chinese students in large numbers, but have established opportunities to train various industries within China.
One of many good examples is the RMIT English School, which recently completed a contract with the Chinese government, consisting of the teaching of 9,000 Chinese pilots with a basic level of aviation English within two years. And we need to acknowledge the ever growing number of private schools, who have extended their education services into higher and technical education. They also enjoy a majority proportion of students from China.
Apart from Chinese families, graduates and industry are benefiting from our education system to provide the best results, the flow-on effects are numerous and not enough acknowledged. The economic impact from students in Australia relating to housing, retail and general expenses is well recorded. Parents visiting their children during study time is obviously creating tourism benefits, and a reasonable percentage of wealthy parents even buy property instead of renting for their children.
Yet the greatest gain is that we learn to understand about each other’s culture and ability to benefit from each other.
During my recent trip to Shanghai I was invited to a celebration dinner arranged by the International Graduate School of Business of the University of South Australia. The evening was celebrating the university’s ‘Residential Program – 2010 Business in China’, enabling MBA graduate students to meet with equals from the University of Shanghai for Science and Technology Business School. I thoroughly enjoyed the deep and open discussions between the academics and adult MBA students from the Australian and Chinese universities debating culture, politics and business.
A great benefit for our mutual future.
Carl Jetter


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