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Asia Minute: Too Many Chinese Students in Australia?

Jason Tong
CC BY 2.0 / Flickr
University of Sydney Main Quadrangle

International students are a growing part of the market for many universities — including here in Hawaii. But a report out this week questions whether some institutions in Australia have become too dependent on students from outside the country – especially from China.

International students now make up about a quarter of all of those studying at Australian universities. That number has nearly doubled in about a decade, and has more than tripled since 2002.

Those findings come from a study out this week from the Center for Independent Studies, which warns that Australian universities are risking a potentially “catastrophic” financial development if there’s a drop-off in Chinese students.

The numbers from China have climbed sharply in recent years. Chinese students now make up about 10% of all university students in Australia, and an even higher proportion at many leading institutions.

The report says 20% of the annual revenue of the University of Sydney comes from fees paid by Chinese students – nearly 340 million U.S. dollars.

A spokesperson for the University of Sydney told Australia’s ABC that it has an “income diversification strategy” now in place.

The country’s education minister says he’s not concerned — adding that the financial position of Australia’s universities is strong.

International students play a smaller but important role in Hawaii’s universities. According to the latest report from the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, the largest source of overseas students in Hawai’i is Japan — followed by South Korea, with China in third place.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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