by Yuzuha Oka
Australia is one of the lowest contributors to send tertiary students abroad despite having the highest percentage of international students inbound.
In Australia, 19.8 percent of tertiary students are international students, according to the recent survey by Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This is the highest percentage in OECD countries. However, as regards the outbound trend, only 1.2 percent of Australian students are enrolled abroad. This is the fourth lowest rate in OECD countries.
On March 18th, a Student Mobility Fair was held at University of Melbourne. Lucy Scott, a recent returnee from an exchange program showed understanding to those who won’t study abroad.
“Australia is too far away from other countries. You need to save a lot of money and have to live by yourself. Studying abroad is not an easy thing.” She says.
Ms Scott went to University of Nottingham (UK) as a part of university exchange program. She chose UK because it was the place she has always wanted to live in. Her family history rooted in UK, and she enjoyed TV shows and fashion coming from there.
“Exchange is a good chance to travel, study, and earn credits at the same time. There is no language barrier, but there is a huge cultural difference. It was worth living there, enjoying and learning from the difference.” Ms Scott says.
Like Ms Scott, many Australian tertiary students tend to choose English speaking countries as destinations. Among Australians studying abroad, 28.1 percent study in United States, 26.9 percent in United Kingdom, and 21.4 percent in New Zealand.
However, destinations are not limited to English speaking countries. Last year the Australian government commissioned a White Paper on Australia in the Asian century. Universities are told to increase Asian content of courses and Asian language education is encouraged. Asia is becoming one of the promoted options to study abroad.
Rongzhi Zhao is a postgraduate student at the University of Melbourne. She went on an exchange to the University of Tokyo (Japan) when she was an undergraduate.
“I am very interested in Japanese traditional culture as well as Japanese modern society. I majored Japanese and wanted to hone my Japanese language skills.” Says Ms Zhao of her motivation.
“I really improved my language skills by living in Tokyo. I utilized almost every chance to practice, such as shopping and asking for a direction. I’ve found that it is really helpful to practice a language in a native speaking background.”
Ms Zhao’s study abroad experience helped her to pursue her dream career. Having returned from exchange, she attended the 44th Australian Japanese Speech contest. She won first prize in the Victorian State Final and represented Victoria to attend the nationals. She won the second place and the prize was to take an internship in one of the Japanese major companies. She currently does her internship in Mitsubishi on Collins St Melbourne.
“My dream is to get a job in Japanese-owned business in Australia. I really enjoy this internship at Mitsubishi as a step forward to my dream.” Ms Zhao smiles.
Yuzuha is a student at the University of Tokyo, currently on an exchange to the University of Melbourne.