Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 07, 2024



The Hon. J.S. LEE (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (15:57): It is my privilege to rise today to speak about StudyAdelaide. As the shadow minister for multicultural South Australia and shadow minister for tourism and hospitality, I am a great supporter of the work of StudyAdelaide. Higher education is one of Australia's biggest exports and international students are extremely important to Australia and our economy, contributing $40 billion annually and supporting some 250,000 jobs.

It is therefore critical to have an organisation like StudyAdelaide that promotes Adelaide as a destination for international students. Our education sector attracts over 40,000 student enrolments from 130 countries and regions around the world. StudyAdelaide's key marketing activities include targeted global digital campaigns, country-specific websites and social media channels, roadshows and events, and a comprehensive inbound familiarisation program.

Once a student arrives here, StudyAdelaide goes beyond the welcome and offers a year-long calendar of free and discounted events and activities that give students the opportunity to meet, make new friends and immerse themselves in different aspects of Australian culture. As part of the familiarisation program, StudyAdelaide recruits a team of student ambassadors each year. Applications are currently open, and it is great to see that this program offers so many invaluable benefits for professional and personal development for students, as well as shaping community activities to enhance the wonderful status of multiculturalism in South Australia.

I have had the pleasure to meet so many bright and exceptional young people over the years through the Student Ambassador Program and I congratulate them for all their achievements. Furthermore, international students also improve workforce participation in our tourism and hospitality retail sectors as well as the broader economic and social impact for our state.

South Australia consistently ranks fourth for education export income by states and territories, with only New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland bringing in more income. In 2022, South Australia brought in over $1.8 billion in income from education, which is an improvement from 2021 but similar to 2020.

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the work done in 2020, when the Marshall Liberal government supported the education sector through the international student support package to support international students impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We were the first state government in Australia to announce this package.

The total package amounted to $13.8 million and included a $10 million fund for university students significantly impacted by COVID restrictions for the University of Adelaide, Flinders University and University of South Australia to distribute to their pathway and international students. We also had $500 emergency cash grants available to other international students not studying at one of the public universities. Furthermore, a one-off $200 assistance payment per student living with South Australian families was provided to homestay families.

Our support for international students during the most difficult time of the COVID pandemic has positioned South Australia as a caring and supportive state for international students. This has no doubt assisted in the recovery of the education sector. The number of international students studying in South Australia totalled 45,613 for the January-October 2023 period.

In Australia, 55 per cent of international students were from the following five student source countries: 21 per cent, China; 16 per cent, India; 8 per cent, Nepal; 5 per cent, Colombia; and 5 per cent, Philippines. In 2023, over 12,500 students in South Australia came from India. The other top source countries include China, Nepal, Vietnam, Colombia, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Brazil, and Pakistan.

In conclusion, I would like to take this opportunity to commend Study Adelaide and the education sector for their amazing work to welcome international students to South Australia. I would also like to thank all the multicultural community organisations who have played a critical role in providing community support and, in many cases, treating these international students as part of their extended family. With those words, I would like to thank Study Adelaide once again for the great work.