TAFE and SCU look to Asia

THE Northern Rivers education industry is unlikely to suffer any backlash from the recent violent attacks on Indian students in Melbourne.

On the contrary, as the bitter war of words escalates between Indian and Australian politicians, with no solution in sight, it is possible the region may even come to be seen as a haven for international students seeking an enjoyable and less expensive lifestyle, as well as physical safety.

Although institutions such as Southern Cross University and North Coast TAFE have not traditionally attracted South Asian students, campaigns by tourist and education groups in the region may turn their attention to Asia as a ‘priority market’.

The head of North Coast Tourism, Russell Mills, said his organisation had teamed up with SCU and TAFE to promote the Northern Rivers as a destination for students.

Last September, 82 people from the United States had entered a competition sponsored by SCU and the airline V Australia, which offered the prize of a trip to the North Coast for a student. The winner, from Wisconsin, will be visiting soon.

Mr Mills said there was another competition currently being run with Air Asia X and North Coast TAFE to target the student market in the United Kingdom.

The situation in Melbourne was a ‘concerning trend’, Mr Mills said, ‘and hopefully the Australian Government will do something to address it’.

“It is not just an economicissue, but a question of therelationship between the two countries,” Mr Mills said.

The potential for an Indian boycott of educational venues in Melbourne ‘reinforces our efforts to promote the North Coast as an alternative to city destinations’, he said.

The opportunity for this had increased with the liaison between the tourism body and Air Asia X, which uses Kuala Lumpur as a hub.

However, Bill MacGillivray, deputy vice-chancellor at SCU, said that while the North Coast had a safer environment around its campuses, he couldn’t see South Asian students choosing to come here instead of the big cities.

“These students need to find part-time employment,” he said. “In Lismore the job opportunities just aren’t there.”

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