Migration & visa related news
New enrolment figures show China's rising middle class is increasingly looking to Australian high schools to educate its next generation
April 15, 2015 Last year, there were almost 4,300 new enrolments of Chinese teenagers in Australian public and private schools. The Australian Trade Commission said it was a rise of about 20 per cent on the previous year's new enrolments. The total number of enrolments of Chinese school students rose to 8,386 in 2014, up from 7,447 in 2013.
Dr Minglu Chen, a lecturer at the University of Sydney's China Studies Centre, said families were looking for better English education and a pathway to top Australian universities for their children.
"This is what we could expect from China's growing economy, which is at the moment is the second largest economy in the world, which actually also has a growing middle class," Dr Chen said.
"Australia is not far from China. They are one of the most important Asia-Pacific neighbours.
"I think parents, wealthy middle class parents in China, would prefer their children to be educated in an English-speaking society."
One of the reasons for the rise in enrolments of Chinese high school students is a new visa system.
In 2014, visa rules were relaxed to allow international teenagers to come to Australia on a student visa as early as Year 7.
Wealthy parents paying thousands for public schools
In New South Wales, Chinese parents pay about $13,500 a year for their children to study at public schools.
The Australian Trade Commission said students either boarded at private schools or stayed in home-stay accommodation.
Quentin Stevenson-Perks, assistant general manager of international education at the Australian Trade Commission, said Chinese parents wanted to send their children to Australian schools as soon as possible.
"One of the trends we've seen is what we call "go earlier" strategy amongst Chinese parents," Mr Stevenson-Perks said.
"I think they're seeing that the benefits of their children gaining English language or foreign language studies earlier.
"Also, the prospects of higher education provide a pretty good package for the Chinese parent."
Trade officials and private schools recently spruiked the Australian curriculum at an international education exhibition tour in several Chinese cities.
One of those schools is Haileybury, a large private school in Melbourne, which said it was about to open a Beijing campus teaching an Australian curriculum to Chinese primary and secondary students.
The school's principal, Derek Scott, also said Chinese families were increasingly interested in Australia's secondary schools.
"That demand has certainly increased as the Australian dollar has gone down," Mr Scott said.
"Australian education rates very well on all the international testing programs."
The number of Chinese high school students in Australia is still far below the 90,300 Chinese university students in the country.
But the Australian Trade Commission has projected the number of younger students will continue to grow.
Trade Minister, Andrew Robb said Australia could teach 10 million international students within the Asia-Pacific region within 10 years if new policies were adopted.
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