As Australian universities become more aware of the risks involved with heavily relying on Chinese students to boost revenues, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr will on Thursday pitch Canberra as the destination of choice for Indonesian students.
Students wanting to excel in areas like climate change studies, ecology, nursing and IT should consider studying in Australia's capital, Mr Barr will say in an address at Universitas Indonesia in Jakarta.
The Chief Minister is leading a delegation of higher education representatives to Indonesia, hoping to increase the number of students coming to the ACT.
Of the 12,937 international university students enrolled in the territory's universities, the large majority come from China, with just 325 Indonesians enrolled in 2018. After China, India is the only country to have more students enrolled in Canberra's five universities than Indonesia.
Representatives from Australian National University, the University of Canberra and UNSW Canberra are also in Jakarta, in an attempt to further increase the revenue generated by the ACT's biggest export industry.
The speech comes after a year in which Canberra's universities have signalled differing approaches to the international student market.
Australian National University vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt said the university wouldn't grow past its size of roughly 20,000 students, with international student growth a large part of its expansion in recent years.
Meanwhile, the University of Canberra experienced a 30 per cent year-on-year increase in international enrolments in 2018.
In October, Peter Varghese, the University of Queensland chancellor and former secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, warned universities to mitigate the risks of relying too heavily on Chinese students, in case China reduced the flow of students to Australia for political reasons.
The number of students from Indonesia studying in Canberra grew 59.3 per cent between 2014 and 2018, the fourth highest rate of growth behind Bhutan, China and India.
"Canberra’s research and teaching institutions are particularly known around the world for their expertise in areas like renewable energy, defence and cyber security, ICT and e-government, health and sports science, space and spatial sciences, and agricultural and environmental sciences," Mr Barr will say.
Examples of existing collaboration between Canberra institutions and Indonesian institutions will also be a focus of the speech, including academics from Indonesia contributing to the University of Canberra's Institute for Applied Ecology.
"They carry with them insights and perspectives which further deepen understanding of these issues among Australian academics and their student peers, as well as gaining practical knowledge to apply here at home in Indonesia," Mr Barr will say.
Indonesia will need to train a million new nurses in coming years, the Chief Minister will say, promoting study options for nursing and other health professions at the ACT's universities and the Canberra Institute of Technology.
The Chief Minister's speaking notes highlight Canberra's "relatively young population, diverse international community and unique natural environment" as providing a good student experience, but perhaps oversell the city's location as "only an hour by car from both the beach and snow".