However, for countries like Australia whose economy is supported by its education export, there is an increasing pressure to diversify its international students mix and intensify its recruitment efforts. Australia considers education as a major export by bringing in overseas students to study in the country.
In fact, education is the 4th largest export of Australia with a $15.042 billion contribution to the economy in 2012. This is, however, slightly lower ($691 million) than the $15.733 billion in 2011, and a hefty $2.558 billion lower than the $17.6 billion in 2009 when the international education sector was at its peak.
The downward trend was due to the strength of the Australian dollar, stiff competition from other countries and stringent visa system, among others. Significant changes in the Australian student visa system though are slowly reversing the trend, so much so that Australia’s education export is predicted to grow by 30% to bring in $19 billion by the end of the decade.
But this can only happen if both the government and education providers can work together in an intensified international student recruitment effort targeting not only its traditional country markets but other emerging markets as well such as Turkey.
Australian top 3 sources international students are China, India and South Korea.
Turkey as a potential market
At present, there are already Turkish students studying in Australia, but the number is negligible and nowhere could it compare to the number of Chinese, Indian or Korean students. Turkey, however, has been identified as one of four emerging markets for international students in a recent study, and for good reasons.
Turkey’s thriving economy In 2010 and 2011, Turkey has experienced a remarkable economic growth with an annual GDP of 9.2% and 8.8% respectively. Turkey is now considered the 6th largest economy in Europe and the 16th in the world. This means that Turkey needs an educated population to strengthen its position.
A young population
Turkey has a young population because of an increase in birth rate between the 70’s and the 90’s. In fact, people aged 15-29 make up a fourth of the total population, and in Western Europe, Turkey has the youngest population in 2010. The growth in the economy also meant an increase in disposable income of Turkish families making them financially able to invest in their children’s education to improve their employability potentials.
Access to higher education is limited
Although a considerable number of Turkish students qualify for a higher education in Turkish universities, not all of them are accepted. The majority, at least 2 out of 3 students who qualify in the national placement test, remain on the “waiting list” because Turkish higher education system cannot keep up with the increase in demand. This makes access to higher education an acute problem in Turkey.
All these facts plus the large Turkish community in Australia, either Australia-born or of Turkish origin, due to a bilateral agreement on assisted migration in 1967 could be an advantage to Australia in its efforts to recruit Turkish students for International Students placement in the education system.