Nepal’s share in Australia’s international education exports hits $2.6 billion

16 December 2019 I Nepal’s contribution to Australia’s soaring international education trade has crossed $2 billion mark as tens of thousands of young students continue to fly down under by the planeloads.

Fresh updates from the Department of Statistics indicate Nepalese students were responsible for producing an international education export share of $2.6 billion during Financial Year 2018-19.

The figure is at least one billion dollar increase over Nepal’s previous FY contribution of $1.6 billion – an impressive increase given the size of the tiny Himalayan nation.

The total value of Australia’s international student industry also has gone up by at least $5 billion.

In the Financial Year 2017-18, the total export volume was $32.6 billion while the ABS statistics made public last week show that the international education industry has made Australia a whopping $37.5 billion in 2018-19.

Since 2011-12 when the international education industry injected $17 billion into the Australian economy, Australia’s international education export figures have never retracted, each year making more money than the year before.

Australia’s second largest supplier of international students to Australia, India, contributed $3.8 billion in 2017-18 against $5.4 billion last financial year.

Since 2012-13, Nepal has experienced a steady surge in the number of student visa grants, without having retracted once – a strong indicator as to how important the Nepalese market is to Australia’s education exports industry.

There were 26,579 visa grants for Nepalese student in 2017-18 while the figure went up to 31,799 in the last financial year, 2018-19.

Students between 20 and 24 years of age are the biggest cohorts of Nepalese students studying in Australia.

Gold Coast, Australia I Photo: Bikram Timilsina

Despite Nepal’s contribution to Australia’s booming international education industry, the South Asian nation does not appear to be high on the agenda of the Australian government, Nepalese education entrepreneurs often complain.

Australia’s Minister for Education, Dan Tehan, visited India from 19 to 21 November but failed to visit the third biggest market across the border, less than two hours by flight from the Indian capital.

Nepalese Australians blame Australia’s lack of attention for Nepal on the Nepalese leaders’ and diplomats’ failure to properly engage with their Australian counterparts.

“It is disheartening that a country which contributes substantially to Australia’s education revenue is not taken serously,” rues Dr Bharat Raj Poudel. Despite Nepal’s contribution, there is no mutually respectable exchanges between Australia and Nepal, the Brisbane-based media expert remarked. 

Dr Bharat Raj Poudel
“The Nepalese diaspora in Australia also is not taking initiatives to brainstorm ideas within the communities and provide constructive inputs to the Nepalese mission in Canberra,” Dr Poudel added, “We could still use China and India’s strengths through our geopolitical connections with the two giants by accessing their tradelink and diplomatic engagements”.
According to the former radio journalist, Australia’s bias towards bigger economies is impacting Nepal’s ability to engage. “Foreign ministry or prime ministerial level contacts and relations are highly desireable. At the same time, the Nepalese mission in Canberra and its leaders need massive homework to enable our efficacy in the future. The embassy could use an expert taskforce in this regard,” he said.

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