Australian education institutions surprise winners of the US election

Chris Lester CEOJust as Australian real-estate agents are reporting a rise in the number of enquiries received from US citizens considering a move down under, it seems Australia’s education institutions may also be unlikely winners of the US election.

Recent data shows the election of Donald Trump could have surprising benefits for Australian universities seeking to attract and enrol more foreign students.

Traffic to Good Education Media’s Good Universities Guide and Studies in Australia websites spiked in the week following Trump’s election. The sites also saw an increase in traffic from those located in the United States, now sitting at around twice the November average.

In May 2016, Intead and FPP EDU Media asked 40,000 prospective international students from all over the world about their attitude towards a potential Trump presidency. The survey found that 60% of them would be less likely to attend a US college if the controversial businessman ended up in the White House.

Similarly a post-Brexit survey of 1000 international students, found that 41% of international students are now less inclined to study in Britain because the country feels “less welcoming.” Australia featured prominently among the alternatives they listed, along with other countries like New Zealand and Canada.

Despite being the world’s fourth most popular study destination (behind Britain, France and the US), Australia’s $20-billion-a-year international education sector is not so much “international” as it is “Asian”.

Around two thirds of the 600,000 overseas students in this country came from South-East Asia, China and India. Europe, Africa, North and South America and the Middle East all represent vast tracts of untapped potential.

With its fast-growing middle classes, and exceptionally young demographics, South America looks particularly promising. Anxious to address chronic skills shortages, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Peru have all stepped up their academic exchange activities in recent years to the point where South America is predicted to be the world’s third biggest source of international students by the year 2035.

Middle Eastern students, too, may feel less inclined to live in Trump’s America which presents another opportunity for Australian education providers. Some 60,000 Saudi Arabian students currently call the US home, but this number may be affected pending how the Trump administration implements its controversial immigration policy agenda.

Given the current global political environment, now is the time for Australian university recruiters to look beyond Asia, and capitalise on Australia’s prime position as an alternative ‘welcoming’ destination for students looking to study abroad.



Chris Lester is Good Education Media’s Chief Executive Officer and brings to the sector more than two decades of experience in strategic management, business development and financial services. Chris enjoys working within the international education community and is passionate about facilitating collaboration with all stakeholders to successfully promote Australia as a study destination of choice. Learn more about Chris.

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