Four Insights from Melbourne Global Univer-City: Educating our Future

International education is shaping the future of Melbourne, Victoria. It is a key driver of our economy and contributor to our proud reputation as a global, multicultural city and State. On 28 November, Melbourne Conversations held a panel to discuss the role of higher education and international education in shaping the future of Melbourne. Study Melbourne Manager, Jane Favaloro joined the panel of experts. Here are the four biggest insights from their discussion:

1. Student experience is key

The most significant insight from all members of the panel was the crucial role of student experience in attracting international students to Victoria.

“At Study Melbourne we ask, where can we create best value? And the answer is student experience.” – Jane Favaloro

Many cities in other countries offer world class institutions, but when students travel overseas they’re looking for something more than just education. Melbourne offers six universities in the world’s Top 200 (THE World University Rankings 2017), but we also offer a superior student lifestyle experience and invaluable support.

“Reputation and word of mouth are what bring students to Melbourne, that’s why student experience is so important.” – Prof Peter Dawkins

The Victorian Government, through Study Melbourne, has invested heavily in student experience initiatives to ensure international students have a well-rounded experience during their time in Victoria. This includes initiatives like the Four Seasons in One Night event at the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival, and the My Melbourne Storytelling Competition at the Melbourne Writers Festival. Another initiative is the Study Melbourne Student Centre, which provides personal support and generates insights on the issues that face international students. These insights inform government policy, to ensure our student experience continues to improve.

“The Study Melbourne Student Centre allows us to do a whole lot of community listening, which informs policy development.” – Jane Favaloro

2. Diversity and safety are the drivers

When asked why prospective students from overseas look to Victoria, the answer from the panel was clear.

“Diversity, safety, quality of education, quality of lifestyle” – Hon John Brumby

As someone who works closely with international students, Wesa Chau shared the importance of parental input in the decision-making process. While prospective students consider lifestyle and multicultural learning, their parents consider safety as a high priority for their children.

“The main reasons students choose to study in Melbourne are multiculturalism and safety.” – Wesa Chau

3. Victoria gets back what it gives

The economic benefits of international education in Victoria are no secret. The state is home to 175,000 international students and the sector is worth an estimated $5.8 billion to our economy.

“International Education alone is the largest services export in Victoria, that’s about 40,000 jobs.” Prof Hamish Coates

Victoria invests heavily in its international education sector because it is mutually beneficial for the students and the State. The investment in student experience is great for those who come here to study, but it also drives future student numbers. This investment has made international education one of the most important industries in Victoria today.

“The exports we generate through international education in Victoria are significantly larger than the heyday of our manufacturing industry.” – Hon. John Brumby

The benefits are also long lasting. Our growing network of international alumni are helping shape Melbourne as an international city, and a recipient of international investment.

“Students who come here to study are likely to come back here and invest back into Victoria.” – Sally Capp

Our local students also prosper from their international peers. The opportunity to learn in a multicultural setting turns Victorian students into worldly graduates, who leave their institutions with intercultural skills and a network of international peers.

“Every time you meet an international student, you are setting yourself up to have an international network.” – Sally Capp

4. Industry and employability are the future

As Victoria looks towards the future of international education, we must face two key challenges. The first is how to improve collaboration between our researchers and industry.

“Victorian universities rank very highly for their research… where we fall down is bridging the gap between industry and our research institutions.” – Hon John Brumby

The second is making our graduates more employable and entrepreneurial. Panellists and members of the audience both noted that Victoria’s institutions are training a generation of job seekers, but we must also focus on training job creators. This is especially important as students increasingly look to their tertiary education as a means of reaching employment.

“More and more, the employability aspect of education ranking is being heavily weighted.” – Sally Capp

These two problems are closely related. As Victoria looks to develop stronger ties between research and industry, our intuitions will become increasingly well placed to train future employers.


About the Panel

The Hon John Brumby, Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne and Monash University, and former Premier of Victoria
Ms Sally Capp, Victoria Executive Director, Property Council of Australia
Ms Wesa Chau, Director, Cultural Intelligence, Victorian Student of the Year: Internationalisation
Professor Peter Dawkins, Vice Chancellor and President, Victoria University
Ms Jane Favaloro, Manager, Study Melbourne
Dr Aung Ko Win, Senior Research Fellow, the University of Melbourne
Professor Hamish Coates, Professor at Melbourne Centre for the study of Higher Education, University of Melbourne