A Guest Post By Justin Birch
Australia has enjoyed its status as the number one destination for Vietnamese university students but it shouldn’t get too comfortable. A recent report released by the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship reveals that offshore applications from Vietnamese students dropped by 31%. This decrease is not the largest, however, with India’s applications having dropped by a staggering 62.9%, but it is second only to China as a cause for concern. Despite the enormous difference in population size, India accounts for only 1% more of the total number of student visa applicants than Vietnam. While the market for Indian students in Australia has been generally soft, Vietnam has been a solid and reliable partner. The recent drop reflects a string of negative developments that have tarnished Australia’s luster among Vietnamese students.
The highly-publicized violence against racial and ethnic minorities and students in recent years has caused significant damage to Australia’s public image and its reputation as a welcoming place for foreign students. While the government has claimed that many of the acts of violence were random, the severe beating of Vu Ngoc Minh, a 19-year-old student attending Deakin University, still remains fresh in the minds of many. Among the many are Vietnamese parents, who choose where they would like to send their children to college.
The greatest factor have probably been the changes in Australian visa application criteria. They are not only more restrictive and demanding, they have also been confusing for many and have discouraged applications. If Australia were the only option for Vietnamese students, these recent events may not have had such a negative impact. However, Canada offers excellent and affordable universities, and benefits from a solid reputation for its multiculturalism and treatment of international visitors and immigrants. The US is also a popular destination but it has a much lower approval rate for student visa applications and higher costs.
Australia’s close proximity, affordability, and familiarity for Vietnamese students will continue to give it key advantages in competing for their tuition dollars. At the same time, those students will also have access to a growing number of alternatives that could continue to undermine Australia’s position and eventually cause it to lose its dominance altogether unless government policies change to once again make Australia a more attractive destination.
Bio: Justin Birch wanted to be a high school teacher, and then a college professor, before encountering the difficulties of graduate school and professional academia. Now, as a writer and editor, he works to promote the quality and availability of undergraduate education in America. Justin is a writer for Online Schools and can be reached at justbirch81ATgmail.com.