Trump Targets Chinese Students

With all the news around trade wars and North Korean diplomacy, the recent announcement that Trump was cutting certain Chinese student visas was lost. Chinese students studying in US high-tech – science and technology areas – were to be reduced from June 2018.1 At its heart is a concern about US intellectual property. The proposal has been shelved for the moment but the debate continues.

Surely this presents a great opportunity for Australia to bolster our student numbers in areas that we are crying out for more expertise in.

Australia already punches above its weight in international education:

US population of 340 million has 1 million international students

Australia population of 24 million has 650,000 international students

Australian governments place enormous value on international students. They all have advisory bodies and a seat in Federal Cabinet. Last year the sector poured $28 billion into the Australian economy and it is the nation’s third largest export (in case you ask, behind iron ore and coal).

Why are international students so important?

Well, it is one of the fastest growing industries worldwide (3.9%) but in Australia it grows at 8 per cent, injecting money into education institutions, real estate, consumerism and tourism. Estimates put the total economic value of a Chinese student at around $59,000 per year.3 In fact, our universities are reliant on funding from international student fees – they provide more funding than their domestic counterparts. By 2025 transnational education is forecast to double from 4.5 million to 8 million students worldwide.

$1 in every $3 spent by international visitors was spent by an international student.4

Students will generally be visited by family and friends at least once leading to more consumption and domestic travel.

According to LEK Consulting, international students support around 130,000 jobs annually and Chinese students contributed $5-6 billion to our economy in 2016.

But we need to think beyond the dollars and to the future actions of international students. LEK’s research shows that 75% of Chinese visitors are either already enrolled, have children who were previously enrolled or are considering enrolling; 60% of respondents would be more likely to invest in the Australian economy in the future (e.g. set up a business) and around 20% work as daigou helping Australian exporters reach the Chinese market with their produce.

International students bring different perspectives and ideas to our society. Creativity and innovation and productivity gains result, our society is enriched with cultural diversity. Students strengthen our international links and broaden our skills. As our workforce ages, according to the City of Sydney International Education Plan, “global competition for young skilled migration is intensifying”.

What do international students want?

As well as a good education at a renowned institution, the opportunity to get some professional experience “work-integrated learning” such as vocational placements, practicums or internships plus the opportunity to work post-graduation is very important.

Migration pathways are linked to employment and visas are getting increasingly difficult to obtain; but as a City of Sydney plan reports, we face a shortage of skilled workers.

Students also need a positive study experience and their wellbeing looked after. “By increasing community understanding of a wide range of issues, languages and cultures”5 enhances their experience and helps students to integrate and participate in their local communities, but they need to be consulted about their needs; they need to have the right support in place and be acculturated to understand that it is OK to ask for help. Their English language needs to be practised and enhanced too; recent research suggests that some Chinese students return home with poorer English than when they commenced study.

We need to improve our engagement with international students

International students from China are an incredibly valuable resource but it is not always easy to devise and implement a strategy to make the most of these contacts.

Whether setting up a volunteer alumni chapter, expanding your China contact database, establishing brand ambassadors or looking for marketing support, how you engage with your international students needs to be integrated with your business’s wider China strategy.

What Chin does

Chin Communications set up a scholarship for international students in interpreting and translating – the Chin Communications Monash Master Scholarship as our commitment to this important work and high-level training. We also take practicum placement and work experience students – some of whom have gone on to work full time with us.

Ongoing training is important both for our team and the broader business community; we frequently speak at universities to encourage workforce participation and cross-cultural understanding.

If you need help to reach out to international students – whether from a marketing, work, or a wellbeing perspective, Chin provides language and marketing support to many target countries and institutions.


  1. Financial Review 31 May, 2018
  2. Phil Honeywood, ACBC Education Forum 16 May 2018
  3. L.E.K. report The China Tourism Economy: Reaching Australia’s Potential, October 2017
  4. Austrade, 2016 International Visitor Survey, ye June 2016
  5. Sydney 2030 Draft International Education Plan

    Source of featured image: search education, Feb18, “What Attracts International Students to Aussie Education Providers”


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