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This contribution has been submitted to Webdiary by a student in the Online Journalism unit for the Masters in Media Practice and Masters in Publishing courses at The University of Sydney as part of the unit's assessment. The topics covered in the pieces awaiting publication are interesting – and diverse. We hope that Webdiarists will enjoy reading them, as well as giving these aspiring journalists plenty of constructive commentary.

by Xin Ma

Frank Walker wrote a piece in the Sun Herald last weekend and warned that Melbourne is on track to take over from Sydney as Australia’s city of the future. While Melbourne is planning to cut the number of cars, introduce a city bicycle rental system, built more affordable housing and increase public transport, the NSW government is abandoning Sydney’s infrastructure improvement. Economic growth in Melbourne has been double that of Sydney in the past 12 months. According to Walker, NSW is the only state where business investment is being cut and consumer are spending less.

What’s worse? I’ll say Sydney is also losing its leading position in the multi-million-dollar education market. International students are not only the main source of revenues for Australian education institutions, but also generate large income to national economy.

The value of Australia’s education exports grew 21 per cent in 2007 to replace tourism as the top services export and become Australia’s third largest export overall. Figures from IDP value education exports in 2007 at $12.5 billion compared to $11.5 billion for tourism. Education was worth more than all other Australian export industries in 2007 except coal ($20.8 billion) and iron ore ($16.0 billion).

However, full-fee-paying international students are treated discriminatingly in NSW. They have to pay twice as much as local students on public transports, whereas in Queensland all students pay the same fares. There have been continuously petitions from student organizations and representatives since the Government withdrew public transport concessions to most International students in 1989. Two year ago the Administrative Decisions Tribunal ruled the Government was discriminating against international students, prompting the Government to change the law and allow the decimation to continue.

But, not all international students are rich. In 2005 there were 59,000 international students in NSW, most of them from developing countries (data from Sydney University). According to Australian Government statistics the top four source countries are (in order): China, India, South Korea, and Malaysia. Like Aristotle Paipetis said on SUPRA website, “NSW needs to remain competitive in international student market and offer incentives, otherwise, they may go to other less expensive states.”

However, as an international student, what I’m worrying most is the safety issue. Early last month, the Chinese consulate in Sydney asked authorities to provide better protection for students after receiving reports of a high number of robberies and assaults. A recent survey shows that one in four Chinese students has been a victim of crime, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Opera House and the beautiful harbor view on travel brochures attract millions of tourists. I’m wondering if they see a harmonious multicultural city when Sydney cannot embrace international students.


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From a fellow student

As much as I can appreciate Sydney, my heart will always be in Melbourne.

Your research was interesting - the fact that education export brought in more money than tourism was unexpected, but as I had to pay international fees for my undergraduate degree, it makes sense.

Melbourne also requires students to be local to receive the student discount on public transport so they don't have Sydney beat there.

The safety issue for international students came as no surprise (sadly). The segregation within my uni in Melbourne was blatantly obvious. What is being done about that? Are there any organisations to bridge that gap? More effort should be put there.

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