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  • Crispin Till

    Email Crispin Till

    Cairns all set for growth trajectory in international education

    The stars are aligning to further boost the already bright future of the international education sector in Tropical North Queensland.

    With Cairns to host the International Education and Training (IET) Summit in May 2018, as well as factors including our laidback lifestyle and the push to get more international students out of capital cities, the good news for the international education sector continues.

    Study Cairns president Carol Doyle said it was “absolutely huge” for Cairns to host the IET Summit, announced by Treasurer Curtis Pitt this morning.

    “The summit is a chance for key stakeholders across the state, as well as globally to come together and plan for the next 12 months. To look at the issues and opportunities and get input from a variety of stakeholders in the discussions,” Ms Doyle said.

    “International study is growing across Queensland, in particular in Cairns and the Gold Coast. It is very exciting.”


    International education is estimated to deliver more than $150 million a year to the TNQ economy and directly employs about 1050 people through schools, English language colleges, vocational training colleges and universities.

    In 2016, 32,000 international students came to study in Cairns, with about 10 per cent on student visas with a focus on short-term study tours and research tours.

    Mr Pitt said the IET sector was an important and growing part of the regional economy and Cairns was chosen in recognition of the city’s enthusiasm for welcoming and nurturing foreign students.

    “Cairns has a wide range of education and training options for international students,” Mr Pitt said.

    The IET Summit is a key component of the Queensland Government’s commitment to invest $25.3 million over the next five years to boost the sector through the implementation of the International Education and Training Strategy 2016 - 2026 to Advance Queensland.

    The inaugural IET Summit was held on the Gold Coast in March with 320 industry representatives. A similar number would be expected to attend the Cairns summit.


    Ms Doyle said student hubs were also being established in regional centres, including one in Cairns in the next three months, that will help enhance the experience for people studying here.

    Ms Doyle said the hub would help case manage students’ experiences while studying here, as well as offering the opportunity to provide information to students about the education experience in Cairns and develop invaluable partnerships between students and the community.

    “It will be an opportunity to build a program where we can get students connected to community programs,” she said.

    “There are a whole range of opportunities for students to become part of the community, develop relationships and take those established relationships back to their home countries.”

    Cairns’ reputation as a friendly city and as being a “melting pot” for cultures from all over the world is also a key to the success of the IET sector in TQN and it comes at a time when the industry is looking at opportunities to expand into regional areas.

    “Regional centres like Cairns are far more friendly and welcoming than the capital cities,” she said.

    “International students are drawn to Cairns for exactly the same reasons that tourists come here. They will also meet people from a variety of different cultures which is what attracts international students to Cairns. It is all part of the experience.”

    There is significant room for expansion within regional Australia, with less than 5 per cent of the international student population located outside a capital city in 2015, according to data from the Department of Education and Training.