The value of Australia’s international education trade shrank 15 per cent last financial year, with a reduction of A$2.7 Billion from an industry worth A$18.5 Billion in 2009-10.

More than half of this decline was felt in the states of NSW and Victoria, each of which lost $1 billion.

In NSW, the trade added $5.8 billion to the state’s economy, and remains it’s second most valuable export after coal.

In Victoria, education added A$4.8 Billion to Victoria’s economy, being its most valuable export, despite a 19 per cent drop.

Factors including the strength of the Australian dollar, uncertainty about student visa rules, and aggressive marketing by Canada, the United States and New Zealand.

The Victorian Premier, Ted Baillieu, said yesterday “The competition for the international student market is acute, and we have to move quickly.”

Australia is the third largest provider of international education, after the US and Britain.

One in five tertiary students in Australia are international students.

International students represent almost half of all students at Ballarat University, and more than a third of all students at Bond University, Central Queensland University and Macquarie.

Last financial year, 20 per cent of successful student visa applications were from China, and 12 per cent were from India.

Many international students study in Australia to secure residency visas, and The Migration Place believes that there are compelling economic reasons to encourage international students to stay here so that their newly found skills can contribute to the Australian economy.

Migrants tend to be extremely motivated people willing to leave their comfort zone and networks behind to improve their lives.

The best thing Australia can do for its future economic independence is to encourage the migration of skilled people to this country.