Vietnamese Students in Australia: A Reality Check

Last year, there were more than 20,000 Vietnamese students in all sectors in Australia,  including higher education, vocational education and training (VET), English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) and other courses (non-credit courses, enabling courses, eyc.).  5,400 were in VET and 5,300 in the higher education sector as of February 2010, according to the Australian Embassy in Vietnam.     

The total number of international students enrolled in Australian postsecondary was 389,461, as of February 2010.  That’s pretty impressive for a country with a population of 22 million, wouldn’t you agree?  Compare that with the U.S., a country of 308 million and host to 1,054,049 nonimmigrant students, exchange visitors, and their dependents, as of March 2010.  This means that Australia, whose population is 7% that of the U.S., has 37% of international students between the two.  

So why has Australia been so successful in competing with the U.S.?    On the positive side:  marketing and promotion, the IDP model, constructive engagement with selected education agents, cost, high visa issuance rate, scholarships, ease of emigration, etc.   On the negative side:  the tendency of the U.S. to live in the past and rest on its laurels.  Only recently – in discussions about  international student “market share” – has the U.S. begun to take its main friendly competitor seriously.   

While the U.S. is the first choice destination and is rated the highest for overall favorable impression compared to the U.K., Australia, Singapore and France, as survey and anecdotal evidence reveal, Australia is the most popular second choice.  So guess where those young Vietnamese whose U.S. visa applications are rejected (30-40%) end up going?

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