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Australia remains one of top places for Chinese students to study abroad
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Australia remains one of top places for Chinese students to study abroad

Australia remains one of the top places for Chinese students to study abroad, with Chinese students applying to Australian universities in record numbers.

As of end of March, 741,224 international students were enrolled in Australian universities — a 16 percent increase compared to the same period in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data from Australia's Federal Department of Education.

Chinese students make up 22 percent of Australia's international students, followed by Indian students as the second-largest group at 17 percent.

Stein Shum, who is studying sports science and nutrition at Deakin University in Melbourne, said he picked Australia for his studies abroad as it was closer to his home in Hong Kong.

He looked into schools in the United States and the United Kingdom, but Australia still came out on top.

"It's also a different experience, and I didn't want to follow the crowd and just go with the popular choices," he told China Daily.

Shum said he is enjoying doing his undergraduate studies in Australia.

"I put in effort to assimilate myself with the culture, so I could feel comfortable studying here among Australians," he said.

University education for international students is one of Australia's most successful exports.

International education was worth A$36.4 billion ($24 billion) to the Australian economy in 2022-23, with many Australian universities relying on international student fees to fund their research.

Most Chinese students tend to gravitate toward the so-called Group of Eight, or Go8, elite Australian universities — the University of Melbourne, Australian National University, University of Sydney, University of Queensland, University of Western Australia, University of Adelaide, Monash University, and the University of New South Wales.

Vicki Thomson, chief executive of Go8, told China Daily that Go8 was determined during the pandemic to maintain a strong relationship with its Chinese students and researchers, with support from the Chinese government.

"Our universities have a long history of education and research collaboration with China, built on many decades of mutual trust and respect," she said.

According to data from Go8, total enrollment in the top eight universities is around 450,000, of which 160,000 are international students. Chinese students make up 113,000 of the international student total.

Thomson said Chinese student enrollments at Go8 are up 31 percent from 2019.

"Chinese students are attracted by the high quality of education and research on offer at the Go8," she said.

"All eight universities are ranked in the world's top 100 universities, with six in the top 50," she said, referring to the QS World University Rankings 2024.

"Go8 universities collectively undertake 70 percent of the nation's university research activity. It is also important to understand that the Go8 attracts nearly two-thirds of Chinese Higher Degree by Research students — around 4,400."

Learning experience

Zhuang Jia, who did his postgraduate studies in urban planning at the University of New South Wales a few years ago, said the learning experience in Australia has greatly enhanced his academic ability and enriched his personal life.

"Australian universities set very high academic standards, and through strict training, the students can master not only how to write quality papers in English, but also how to interpret them," he said.

"As an internationally renowned travel destination, studying in Australia offers the students a rare chance to reside in the country for a long time, so they should cherish it by traveling around, (visiting) different sites such as the Great Barrier Reef, to immerse themselves in the unique culture," he said.

Chen Shulin, who completed his PhD at the University of Technology Sydney, said it is easier for engineering students to get full scholarships in Australia than in the US.

"And the society is safer and more stable," Chen said.

"Compared with the UK, the cost of living is lower, and the local food may suit the Chinese students better."

Foreign students contribute around a fifth of all university funding and make up Australia's fourth-largest "export", after iron ore, coal and natural gas.

The US and UK are Australia's biggest competitors for international students, and they easily outrank Australia in prestigious international university rankings.

China DailyGu Yetao

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