International Student Barometer report – good news for sector, but more work to do 


Universities Australia has released the findings of a new benchmark survey, involving 34 of Australia’s universities, on the expectations and experiences of international students pursuing higher education in Australia.

The International Student Barometer (ISB) – 2010 National Report affirms that before and during their student experiences in Australia, what matters most to students is quality learning and quality living.

Universities Australia CEO Dr Glenn Withers said: “The ISB Report affirms that on a number of important indicators – from pre-arrival to arrival, learning, living and support services – international students rate their Australian university experience highly.”

Overall, 86 per cent of the 36,308 international students who responded to the survey were satisfied with their education experience. Overall satisfaction levels were also uniformly high for the arrival process (86 per cent), learning (84 per cent), living (86per cent), and support (86 per cent).

“These findings show that a significant majority of our international students are having fruitful and rewarding experiences, a fact sometimes overlooked in public discussion,” Dr Withers said.

Seventy-six per cent of students surveyed in 2010 said they would recommend their Australian university to future applicants. This is in spite of recent issues including visa processing times and exchange rates.

“Yet we do not and must not see the world through rose-coloured glasses. The ISB survey also confirms that there is no room for complacency and still room for ongoing improvement. For example, the report identifies mismatches between students’ expectations of living in Australia and their actual experiences,” Dr Withers said.

“Universities and governments are rightly being increasingly asked to demonstrate how the overall student experience is being supported, maintained and improved.

“While some student expectations may go beyond what may reasonably be expected of institutions, it is acknowledged that universities do have a responsibility to manage these expectations and to live up to the actual promises made to prospective students.”

Universities Australia and its own member universities are working to address such issues through the Universities Australia Ten Point Action Plan involving universities, State/Territory governments, diplomatic missions in Australia, and international students themselves.

For example, the plan includes strategies to improve access to affordable accommodation, to increase safety on and off campuses, and to facilitate greater cross-cultural interaction.

Dr Withers said: “The International Student Barometer is a valuable indicator of how Australian universities are viewed by the students themselves. The overarching message is that continuous improvement is central to how well universities deliver positive experiences for their students.”

The International Student Barometer - 2010 National Survey project was undertaken for Universities Australia by consultants, Dr Mary Varghese and Mr Kevin Brett, with funding provided by Australian Education International within the federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

The full ISB Report and the Universities Australia Ten Point Action Plan are available at