International student education in Australia – is agriculture gaining its fair share?

Jim Pratley1, 2

1School of Agriculture and Wine Science, Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga NSW 2678

2Australian Council of Deans of Agriculture


International student education arising from international students studying in Australia contributed $30 billion to Australia’s economy, ranking as the third largest export (Department of Education and Training 2018). Big winners are courses in Business Studies and Information Technology. Since Australian agriculture is considered amongst world’s best practice, it might be expected that international students interested in agriculture might seek education in Australia. So, what are the opportunities for regional universities under this scenario and what is the current situation that might provide an indication of realising that opportunity? International students favour prestigious universities and the five Group of 8 (Go8) universities captured 83% of the international student market in agriculture over the 2001-2016 period. There is a considerable discrepancy in total income between the Go8 and regional universities from international fee-paying students, both overall and in agriculture. While there is little evidence for major differences in quality of course offerings between universities, it is clear that the capability to invest in research and other areas from international student income will be compromised for regional universities. The rhetoric offered by governments to international students to promote study in regional areas is likely to fail as the ‘client’ seeks to gain qualifications from higher-ranked metropolitan universities.


The Australian Society of Agronomy is the professional body for agronomists in Australia. It has approximately 500 active members drawn from government, universities, research organisations and the private sector.

Photo Credits

David Marland Photography Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, Charles Sturt University

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