How Should RMIT University Address the Issue of Declining International Student Numbers in A Very Competitive Global Market? [pic] Executive Summary Royal Melbourne Institution of Technology (RMIT) is a worldwide famous university and it provides global education service with good evaluations, lots of international students in Australia would choose RMIT University for their first or continuing studies and they are becoming a big part to consist of RMIT University students.
But recently, because of the global financial situation change and current conditions in Australia, the RMIT University might face the declining problems of international students. Base on this overview, this research provides an analysis and recommendations of current RMIT University’s international student’s situations and future improvements. The purpose and objective of this research is searching the most closely reasons which are creating the biggest influence in international students’ evaluations and social measurements.
The major method of analysis adopts questionnaires survey; each questionnaire involves eleven progressive questions to measure the results from different gender, nationality, level of degree and personal opinions. The sample of survey can be found in appendix. The outcomes of primary and secondary data analysis indicate that the current international students declining in RMIT University because of the whole trend of the Australian international students is decreasing and lots of international students are not satisfied with RMIT University’s basic conditions or they just measured it as “Just okay”.
This paper finds out the general evaluation of RMIT University is medium, a part of international students’ rate is high quality, but the most investigators evaluated as medium or lower indications. The major area of declining problem possibly is related with RMIT University itself, such as education and facilities quality, tuition fees and so on. But the integral situations in Australia also influence the student source of RMIT University. The recommendations are discussed as: 1. Improve education quality; . Enhance the quality of facilities and assistant services; 3. More overseas advertising; 4. Career or employment support; 5. Students wellbeing care; 6. Establish more scholarship programs and reduce tuition fee. Table of Contents 1. Introduction………………………………………………………….. 6 2. Research Purpose and Objective……………………………………. 7 3. Methodology………………………………………………………….. 8 4. Findings and Outcomes……………………………………………… 9 5. Recommendations…………………………………………………… 15 6. Conclusion…………………………………………………………… 9 Reference…………………………………………………………………………………… 21 Appendix…………………………………………………………………………………… 23 1. Introduction In this particular research paper, the major research project is around the question of “How should RMIT University address the issue of declining international student numbers in a very competitive global market? ” to seek relative factors and then analysis main reasons and influence.
The first part of this paper is identification of research purpose and objectives; in this part it briefly describes currently general situation of Australian international students market and most of universities’ behaviours. Especially, this part represents detailed information of international students in Royal Melbourne Institution of Technology (RMIT) and recent important performance, and then combines all mentioned data and information to confirm the research purpose is aim to find out core factors by examine all related elements.
Base on the research purpose of this paper, the reasonable and logical methodology should be used in collecting data and distribute the results from data analysis, therefore this article adopts the method of questionnaire survey to collect information from RMIT University’s international students. In this particular questionnaire, it concerns the research project to set up eleven progressively questions. And in third part of this paper, it through the main questions in survey to create accurate data results to assist the continuous analysis and final outcomes.
At the end of analysis, according to previous detailed analysis of primary and secondary data, this paper suggests several reasonable and active recommendations such as enhance the quality of education system and facilities and so on to support the objective purpose of this research. Finally, the conclusion of this research summarise all findings and emphasize the key improvements which is suggested to RMIT University then help institution to solve current problems. 2. Research Purpose and Objective
A number of international students in Australia have increased considerably over many years ago. More people, particularly from Asia-Pacific region, were likely to study in Australia. Many universities tried to develop educational systems into Australia education standard and undertake assessment of overseas qualification by the National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition (NOOSR) in order to attract more international student (Auditor General Victoria, 2002). However, since the global financial crisis in 2008 numbers of international students are decreased by 10% to lowest levels.
Margaret Gardner, vice chancellor and president of RMIT University, said that there is likely to be a decline in the total number of international students coming to Australia. This issue can be caused by many factors, that influence dramatically on decision, such as a soaring currency, restriction of visa application, etc. (Mercer, P 2011). Furthermore, students also have other option countries, which are more affordable study destination. All Australian universities are faced high competitive situation.
This seems to be very concerning issue due to the fact that an education industry earns a massive income from international student. According to Ding, K (2012), international students bring Australia a huge $16. 3 billion in export income in 2010-2011. RMIT University is one of high reputation universities in Melbourne. It provides 74,000 students, including 30,000 international students inshore and off shore from more than 100 countries (RMIT University, 2012). However, it has also been in the declining of international student numbers situation even numbers of student in higher education was still growing (Lane, B 2011).
In 2011, the Australian Government has changed some visa application policies that would help reverse the decline in international enrollments (PIER, 2011). This may bring advantages to all universities, including RMIT University to have more international students’ enrollments. The purpose of this research is to examine various factors, which affect on decreasing in numbers of international student at RMIT University. The issue will be considered thoroughly in order to find out appropriate solution for this situation.
As a result, some crucial recommendation will be given to RMIT University to address the issue of declining of international student numbers. 3. Methodology Research was created by RMIT International students in order to investigate the declining of international student numbers issue faced by RMIT University and give some crucial recommendations to address the mentioned issue. Interviewees comprised 26 overseas students, divided by gender half and half from Chinese(14), Thai(2), Taiwanese(2), Malaysian(1), Indian(2), Ethiopia, Saudi Arabian, Pakistan, UAE, and Kenyan.
Most respondents were student 21 – 30 age group. This survey consisted of 11 questions. Personal information was surveyed in the beginning, regarding gender, age, and nationality. Other questions were linked to the factors that affect the problem of declining international student numbers in RMIT University. Furthermore, it can be inferred to some solutions that address the issue effectively. In the second part of the survey, the interviewees were asked about the person who influence most to study overseas, including provide financial while they are studying.
The questions focussed on internal factors that encourage international student studying at RMIT University. The next questions pointed at factors from RMIT University. The participants were asked for an opinion about the most popular education level in RMIT University for international student, also ranked a satisfaction of quality of educational system, facilities and student service at RMIT University if they were concern in these factors. The rest of the questions related to external factors, which would influence participants study at RMIT University. The respondents were asked to rank each factor influences’ to study at RMIT University.
Additionally, they were requested to show other option country for studying aboard, unless they studied in Australia. The last question asked for the recommendation to attract more international student come to study at RMIT University. A copy of the interview questions appears in the appendix section of this report. 4. Findings and Outcomes Generally, to study overseas will offer international students a better education and more job opportunities. On the other hand, international students also make significant contributions to Australian society and economy. For example, they will bring different cultures to communities and enrich them.
The Australian economy as well as universities will obtain benefits from the tuition fees paid by international students or other expenses. As the number of international students declined in Australia recently, RMIT University should pay attention to this issue for the sake of continuous making profits. Therefore, in this section we will analyse why the number of international students declined recently from secondary data which are collected from literature review and primary data which are collected from our questionnaires. The following graph shows the basic trends in international student visa pplications to Australia. Fig 4. 1 [pic] (Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2011) As Figure 4. 1 shows, there is a sharp increase of student visa applications from 2006 until 2008-09 because of the higher reputation of Australian education system. However, the total number followed by a significantly sudden decrease from 2008-09 until 2011. Because of the graph shows the whole trends of international student visa applications, it can be guessed that not only RMIT University experienced the decline, but also other universities such as Melbourne University or Monash University struggled.
Moreover, the decline issue has not changed from the end of 2011 and still continued in 2012. The following Fig 4. 2 shows the change of volume of Enrolments and Commencements in different Australian educational sectors. As we can see the total volume of Enrolments and Commencements in March 2012 declined by -8. 5% and -7. 2% respectively compared with the same month of last year. Especially, the Higher Education sector displays a decrease in Enrolments of 4. 0% and a 6. 0% decline in Commencements compared with 2011 figure. Fig 4. 2 pic](Source: Australian Education International 2012) What kind of reasons that contributed to this situation? According to Deloitte Access Economics (2011), the reasons include the appreciation of the Australian dollar which will increase the living cost in Australia for international students, the change of the General Skilled Migration program which made more difficult for international student to apply the permanent residency and the increased competition from other countries’ universities may also effect the number of international student visa applications.
The above analysis is based on the secondary data, next we will use our own data which are concluded from questionnaires to do the further analysis. One question in the questionnaire is: How would you rank the quality of education system of RMIT University? The reason why we ask this question is the quality of education system is an important component of a university. If the quality of a university is good enough and has a higher reputation, then more international students will choose it and vice versa.
The responses of this question can reflect international students’ attitudes to RMIT University. The result of this question is showing in the following Fig 4. 3. Fig 4. 3 [pic] Base: International students (26) Q: How would you rank the quality of education system of RMIT University? As we can see from Fig 4. 3, most interviewees which are 13 ranked the quality of education system of RMIT University as Medium. 7 interviewees ranked as High. However, we are very surprised that 2 interviewees ranked the quality as Low. This means they are not satisfied with the education of RMIT University.
The reason they gave us why they ranked as Low is they think recent years RMIT University did not improve its education system a lot such as the courses in some programs did not change for a period of time. Combined with this question, we think one reason of declining international student numbers at RMIT University should be the quality of education system is not as good as other universities such as Melbourne University. Fig 4. 4 [pic] Base: International students (26) Q: How would you rank the quality of facilities and services of RMIT University?
According to the answers of the respondent in terms of the quality of facilities and services in RMIT University (Fig 4. 4), the result looks like moderate. More than half of answerer (56%) thinks facilities and services quality can be accepted, only 4 students out of 25 who think RMIT University provide a good facility and services, while 28% respondents don’t like the facilities and services. Here, the facilities services, according to RMIT University, includes maintenance of all mechanical and essential services, mail services, cleaning services, fire and emergency services, and security system (RMIT University 2012).
But in the survey, except the facilities mentioned above, the respondent also considers the teaching facilities, library facilities, sport facilities, frequency of social events, administrative services and support, online learning resources, IT support and equipment, university web site, financial support and advice of RMIT University provided. Some students complain that: “there is always a long line in the hub, in computer lab, and even the printer”, “no available group meeting room unless I booked it couple of days before”, “sometimes, I cannot login myRMIT”.
Therefore, it is obvious to see that the quality of facilities and services of RMIT University is not a competitive advantage for attracting international student. Fig 4. 5 [pic] Base: International students (26) Q: How would you rank the following factors that influence you to study overseas such as at RMIT University? Knowing the factors that influence student to study overseas is significant to find the reasons of the changes of number of international students. As shown in the pie chart above (Fig 4. ), there are two main aspects that students will consider when they go to abroad for further study, that is, reputation of the university and education system quality, which occupied totally 52% of the all factors that the survey provided. After consider the university reputation and education quality, 15% international student prefer study at the country with the good currency exchange rate. In addition, tuition fee (13%) and social environment (10%) of the expected country as two important aspects will be considered before students choose the overseas university or the country.
Few students take into consideration the education policy (e. g. Double degree program in short-term) and the country’s immigration policy (e. g. , permanent resident policy), from the survey result, these two policies have the same number of supporter (5%). In this survey question, seven factors were offered, it is clearly that reputation of university, education system quality, education policy and tuition fee refers to the university, while another three factors: immigration policy, exchange rate of currency, and social environment of that country related to the country.
Regarding the survey result, compared with the concerns of the country, international students would like put more concentration on the choice of university. Besides, the survey provides an interesting choice, that is, “which country would you go to study instead of Australia? ” Almost every respondent said they want go to USA and UK, and they gave similar reasons, like: “high quality of education in the world, good education facility, good education atmosphere, weakness of US dollar”. In fact, their opinion of the choice is consistence with the factors affect people study abroad discussed above.
Thus, to attract more international students, the university should take more measures to improve their education quality and reputation, rather than relay on the policies of government. 5. Recommendations In the previous section, we have analysed the reasons that the number of RMIT University’s international students declined using both secondary data and primary data. In this section, we are mainly aiming to propose some recommendations for RMIT University for the sake of preventing the declining trend and continuous making profits.
The last question in our questionnaire is: If you were reporting to RMIT Executive, what would you recommend RMIT University do to attract more international students? This is an open-end question and the purpose of it is to obtain interviewees’ suggestions about the improvements for RMIT University. Finally, we have concluded 6 recommendations from all interviewees’ responses for RMIT University to address the issue of declining international student numbers. Improve Education Quality
Basically, most interviewees’ first suggestion is about the education quality of RMIT University. Education quality includes many areas such as the quality of programs, courses allocation of programs, physical environment of study and the quality of lecturers. Therefore, we think RMIT University should devote some effects to improving these areas in the future. For example, some courses in the program have not been changed for a long time; RMIT University could allocate different courses for the program after a period of time.
This will make the program fresh to students and follow the trend of educational development. By allocating different courses in the program regularly, the quality of program will be improved to a large extent. For the quality of lecturers, we think RMIT University should arrange some training courses for the lecturers regularly to enhance their abilities of teaching and also provide better resources and infrastructures for lecturers. This will improve the quality of lecturers in the long run. Enhance the Quality of Facilities and Services
Except the education quality, university’s facilities and services also play an important role in the levels of satisfaction of student experiences. To satisfy international student’s demand in terms of facilities and services, the paper would like recommend RMIT University provide more service counters in hub, and offer more computers in the lab, more group study rooms. For learning resource, more books or journals are required in the library and allowed registered student can assess more online learning resources.
Furthermore, provide more writing workshop for international student. More Overseas Advertisements Our third recommendation is about the advertisement of RMIT University itself. We think RMIT University should advertise itself more in education market especially in foreign countries such as Asian and European countries. In the advertisements, RMIT University should display its unique educational strength such as it is the only university that provides logistics program in Melbourne.
Because of the globalization is becoming a trend gradually, the logistics in some Asian countries is boosting its development and demanding more good logistics graduates. As a result, more students want to go abroad to get better education in logistics, so this could be an opportunity for RMIT University to advertise itself and increase the number of international students. Moreover, we think RMIT University should also enhance its cooperation relationships with other foreign universities. For example, RMIT University could introduce more students exchange programs such as study tour and cooperation programs.
Cooperation program means international student can study for a period time in his own country’s university and then come to RMIT University to study another period of time to acquire the certificate. This economic way is becoming more and more popular in Asian countries because it can save much cost for students who want to study abroad compared with the way that they apply RMIT University directly. Through this way, RMIT University could also increase its international student numbers. Establish More Scholarship Programs and Reduce Tuition Fee
The next recommendation is about scholarships and tuition fees. Many interviewees mentioned RMIT University should also provide scholarships for international students instead of only providing to PR students or citizens. In fact, most American universities will provide a fairly amount of scholarship to its students regardless of their nationalities. Moreover, as the exchange rate of US Dollar is depreciated currently, more students will choose American universities for better education and scholarship. That is one reason of declining international student numbers in RMIT University.
Thus, if RMIT University could also provide scholarships to international students, the number of students will increase to some extent because Australia has a better environment and society compared with America. This is a significant strength of Australia and an important reason for international student’s choice. Furthermore, tuition fee is another important aspect according to interviewees’ answers. They are not happy with the increase of tuition fee every year. Because the tuition fee is already very high for international students compared with local students.
If the tuition fee increases every year, it will be a big burden for international students. According to their answers, they do not hope tuition could decrease, they just hope the tuition fee can keep stable during their study period because they think the tuition fee is an important factor to influence their choice of university. Therefore, we think if RMIT University could consider the issue of scholarship and tuition fees, it will have more chances to increase the number of international students and improve the reputation. Career or Employment Support
The career support of a university provided is an advantage for attracting international students. Therefore, a suggestion for RMIT University is cooperate or communicate with some companies to offer some practical skill training opportunities to students, enable them obtain the practical work experience and professional skills before they get a job, thus, compared with their peer, the graduates will have more competitive advantage. Besides, RMIT University could provide job information to international students about working in Australia, such as: organise career expo.
Take Care of International Student’s Wellbeing A sense of wellbeing is integral to a high-quality experience for international students and is contains accommodation, community engagement and health and safety issues (Council of Australian Government, 2010). International students face particular challenges and may require some specialized services to support their wellbeing, because they may be living independently and for the first time in a foreign country with an unfamiliar culture and limited English skills.
Apparently, the issues of wellbeing are a responsibility of the council; however, university as an education provider and contact with international students directly, is an important channel to increase student awareness of safety and minimise safety risk by informing students. Therefore, RMIT University can provide safety information and advices to current and future international students and publicise the student personal safety guide to international student at orientation events. In terms of accommodation issues, as we known, there is no accommodation provided in RMIT University.
So, for international student’s convenience and safety, RMIT University can cooperate with housing agency to provide housing information through school’s bulletin board and website. One survey which was held by Council of Australian Government (2010) indicates that 80 per cent of international students want more Australian students as friends. The paper suggests RMIT University should actively to promote social events, help international students engage with local students and community groups and helps them adjust to the new society and culture. . Conclusion At the end of this report, according to the above detailed analysis and recommendations suggested. In conclusion, the major reason to cause the declining issue happens to RMIT University can be divided into two sections, first one is the integral influence, because of the current international students situation in Australia is indicating an decreasing trend therefore the national factors influence the international students source of RMIT University.
The second reason is the social evaluations, concerning the questionnaire survey’s result and analysis; the general evaluations for RMIT University from its international students are obtaining a medium level. Therefore, the results show that the RMIT University service provides to students which is just meet the basic level but not fully satisfied everyone, and most of investigators expect more improvements. Base on the research results, this report suggests several reasonable recommendations to help RMIT University abate current problems.
The major opinions include establish more scholarship programs and reduce tuition fee, take care of international student’s wellbeing and improve the quality of education system and facilities. Because of these three suggestions are the key reasons which were reflected on questionnaires research, therefore these performance should be developed first as essential conditions to innovate the whole institution then develop the other parts as long term enhancement and future strategies.