International education: Financial and organizational impacts in Australian universities

Education Australia

This research investigates the impact of international education on the mission and priorities, finances and financial systems, organizational cultures, facilities and services, academic organization and the character of education in Australian universities. The research team conducted interviews with senior executives, administrators and academic managers at three universities: Melbourne, Ballarat and South Australia. The main findings were (1) all three institutions were worried about their high and growing dependence on international student fees, (2) the question of whether a net surplus was generated (i.e. net of all the costs related to international students) was uncertain and not possible to answer conclusively, (3) in relation to international education revenues, spending priorities generally favoured buildings, facilities and services ahead of academic capacity building, and general staff numbers over teaching numbers.

The most positive finding was the major increase in the quantity and quality of student services triggered by internationalisation. The most disappointing finding was that despite the great organizational importance given to international education and its impact on total growth, it had generated very little in the way of additional research capacity. The most favourable outcomes here were in the business faculties where a minor part of the revenues were used to attract more research-capable staff.

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