Published: March 29, 2016

GLOBALLY respected universities and quality education providers combined with an enviable lifestyle are attracting growing numbers of international students to South Australia.

Last year more than 32,000 international students were enrolled in universities, education institutions and schools, in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, which is a 5 per cent increase on the previous year.

A key factor to this growth is Study Adelaide, an organisation established in 1998 by the South Australian government to promote the state as an education destination and help international students settle into the broader community.

Study Adelaide CEO Karyn Kent said the number of opportunities South Australian universities provide helped make Adelaide a highly sought after destination for students.

“We let students know that they can have a quality education here with highly ranked universities,” Kent said.

“We are also up to 20 per cent more affordable in terms of living costs than Sydney or Melbourne and we have a great lifestyle.”

The compact size of Adelaide, which makes it similar to other varsity towns such as Boston and Oxford, not only makes life easy but also opens up many opportunities for international students to network with business people and the government.

“Students like to be able to engage with community leaders for their future career development, ” Kent said.

Adelaide was voted the fifth most liveable city in the world by The Economist Intelligence Unit, which considered the safety, healthcare, educational services, infrastructure and environment of 140 cities.

The three long-standing public universities in Adelaide, Flinders University, University of South Australia, and the University of Adelaide, consistently rate highly in the international higher education rankings. The University of Adelaide and the University of South Australia were also ranked among the most international institutions in the world.

This combination of world-class schools and easy, safe living has combined to make education South Australia’s largest service export and fourth largest export overall, with an estimated economic value of $1.127 billion in 2014/15.

Education is very similar to the value of South Australia’s other famous export: wine.

Patrick Robinson from City of Adelaide’s City Growth and Investment Program said that the Council has a long-term strategic commitment to growing the international education sector and that… “increasing numbers of students from overseas choosing Adelaide as their study destination has had an enormous impact on the life, character and economy of the City and State” .

International students also make up nearly a quarter of the residential population of the City creating a new demographic that has driven an increase in vibrancy, business and activity levels in the City while also attracting major investment for purpose built accommodation and capital expenditure for expanded on-campus infrastructure and facilities supporting student services.

“Adelaide’s international student population is a powerful asset for our city and our commitment to growing the sector increases the city’s status as a great place to invest and do business,” said Dominic Pangallo of Invest Adelaide.

Karyn Kent adds that international education has also helped tourism growth and consequently generated significant increases in employment in the State of South Australia.

“A research study done a few years ago showed that for every three international students, and their friend or family visitor, one job was generated. Taking into account the 32,000 enrolments from last year, the industry generated almost 10,000 jobs,” Kent said.

Chinese students make up the majority of arrivals, accounting for 40 per cent of total international enrolments, and marked a 10 per cent increase in the past 12 months. China is also the fastest growing source of international students.

Students from India make up over 10 per cent of enrolments in Adelaide.

Study Adelaide is also involved with the Amazing Ambassador Recruitment Campaign, which saw a student from Qingdao, Adelaide’s sister city in China, visit South Australia to study English and tour the state.

Kent said the first ambassador campaign received more than 169 million views on social media and had more than 800 applications wanting to experience life in South Australia.

“This year we will announce two winners as part of the state’s business mission to China (in April) because we want to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Shandong and South Australia sister-state relationship,” Kent said.

This year’s Chinese student ambassador campaign amassed 85 million views on social media and had more than 2000 applications.

 “As a result of its success, we launched a Vietnam student ambassador campaign and will announce the winners in early June.”

Kent said Study Adelaide has a Chinese language website and keeps its education partners in China up to date with what’s new in Adelaide.

“The universities here in Adelaide have people in China, as do the government. It’s an industry effort and I would like to think we are contributing to the growth of students coming here.”

The South Australian Government is shifting the focus away from manufacturing and towards the knowledge sector to boost the state’s economy according to South Australian Investment and Trade Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith.

“We want to cement our reputation as a leader in providing a safe, vibrant and positive experience for international students to ensure they gain not just a qualification, but have great experiences and expanded cultural perspectives,” said Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith.

“Accelerating growth in our international education sector will drive our economy, create jobs, and strengthen our international connections and engagement.

“We are committed to growing our international student sector and we are on track to increase our pool of students across all sectors to 35,500 by 2017.”