Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek will go overseas next year to spruik Queensland's education industry. Photo: Michelle Smith
Education may not be one of the touted Newman government economic pillars – but the sector still managed to surprise the Premier on a recent trade mission.
So much so that Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek has been asked to visit the Middle East and Asia early next year to promote the state's universities, TAFEs, English language courses and schools.
Education and training already contributes $2.44 billion to the economy through course enrolments – as of June 2013, 61,744 international students were enrolled in Queensland, with the majority – 28,953 – enrolled in the state's universities, followed by 14,103 in vocational education courses, while 13,010 were studying English.
But add in the money those students spend and the jobs they create and Brisbane has its biggest export market.
Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said the education and training sector was worth $5.1 billion to the Queensland capital.
“Choosing to study in Brisbane can lead to a lifelong relationship with the city as students maintain personal and business connections long after graduation,” he said.
Like all things related to the Queensland economy, China remains the key market the state is attempting to attract.
Chinese students account for 22 per cent of all international students studying in Brisbane, followed by those from India (14 per cent) and Korea (7 per cent).
Mr Langbroek last visited the country in June 2013, his mission having been to help delegates build and strengthen relationships with their Chinese educational counterparts.
The government has identified several “opportunities” for Queensland to grab a stronger foothold in the lucrative Chinese market; in 2011, 76,800 senior high school students took their studies abroad, which equated to 23 per cent of all students studying overseas worldwide.
This was helped along by the "Go Early" trend adapted in China, which sees parents send their children overseas for school and language studies at younger ages.
Indonesia and Vietnam have also been identified as key Asian markets – Vietnamese students, already the fifth largest education market for Australia, are only expected to grow in numbers, after their government predicted 86,000 new English teachers would be required to keep up with the demand over the next seven years.
Mr Newman is also looking to strengthen education ties with the Middle East and has asked Mr Langbroek to include it on any itinerary.
The Education Minister said it was “critical” Queensland's profile was “maintained and strengthened in overseas markets” if international students were to be enticed to the state.
“Safety, academic excellence, natural beauty and a healthy outdoor lifestyle make Queensland a favoured destination for an overseas study experience,” he said.
"We already attract more than 20 per cent of Australia's international school student numbers and our share of this sector is growing.
“I'm looking forward to strengthening these relationships in the future to ensure that Queensland can capitalise on this fantastic opportunity to boost our economy.”