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China is the University of New South Wales’s (UNSW) largest source of international students. 5,748 Mainland Chinese students contributed approximately 47% to the University’s international student population in 2012. If Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan are included, the Greater China region provided 6,643 students to UNSW in 2012, representing 62% of the University’s total 10,600 Asian enrolments and 55% of the broader international student cohort. Guangdong Province and the Pearl River Delta account for approximately 40% of UNSW’s Chinese student enrolments, representing the largest source of UNSW students within not only Greater China, but also the entire Asian region and the second largest recruitment base for the University outside of Sydney. Chinese student recruitment contributes more than $160 million in revenue and represents approximately 10% of UNSW’s total $1.6 billion annual budget.
This is a vital source of revenue which ‘subsidises UNSW’s high-impact, world leading research, generates significant employment and keeps downward pressure on fees for Commonwealth supported students. Research by Access Economics demonstrates that the average international student enrolled in the higher education sector spends $34,339 on living expenses. Based on these figures, UNSW’s Chinese students contributed more than $195 million to the wider economy in 2012 alone. International student recruitment contributes significantly to the viability of UNSW’s 5,300 strong payroll, which in turn generates significant tax receipts to government coffers. Chinese student enrolments bring enormous benefits to the wider economy. For example, Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFRs) accounted for the largest arrival group of the 600,000 Chinese tourists that visited Australia in 2012. This case study is just one example of the benefits of higher education exports to the wider economy and the flow-on benefits to government revenues, local communities and ordinary Australian households.