Families from China are sending their high school-aged children to the Gold Coast to study, as the city’s education industry peaks internationally.
The Zhong family is a prime example, with 18-year-old daughter Clark completing Year 12 at Southport State High Independent Public School.
“My granddad thinks the future of the Gold Coast is very good and he wants me to stay here to get a good job,” said Clark. “I want to go to university and study engineering. My dad is an engineer in China.”
Younger sister Love will soon join Clark on the Gold Coast, where she will begin high school.
In 2016, China was Australia’s second largest inbound market for visitor arrivals, and the largest market for total spend and visitor nights. The international education sector follows similar statistics.
At Southport State High, Chinese students are the school’s largest international cohort, followed by Korea and Germany.
Clark said she had fallen in love with the Gold Coast in the two years she’s been studying here.
“Australians are very kind, friendly and they help me a lot. It’s more relaxed than in China, where we study from 7am to 11pm. On the Gold Coast, I still study very hard, but I also have a nice lifestyle balance.”
Southport State High Independent Public School has been working to grow its international student cohort, having seen an increase from five students in August 2016 to 23 currently.
School Principal Nigel Hughes said growing the international student cohort was important because it not only added value to the school community, but also generated around $600,000 each year for the local community.
“We believe that it is important for students to have the opportunity to engage with people from other countries and cultures,” said Mr Hughes.
“We want to build internationalisation into our curriculum, thereby exposing our students to the world and the world to our students.
“I believe it is our role as educators to nurture 21st Century students who can, and want, to communicate and engage with people from all over the world.”
Mr Hughes said Southport was the ideal location for international students because of its close proximity to the Southport CBD, the Broadwater and accessible public transport such as the light rail and buses.
Southport State High Independent Public School also has students from Austria, Brazil, Canada, Fiji, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.
The school facilitates support for its international students through regular English support classes, excursions, interstate trips to Sydney and Melbourne, and weekly cultural experiences such as surfing lessons.
Study Gold Coast CEO Shannon Willoughby said China, Brazil, Japan, India and South Korea were the Gold Coast’s top markets for international students.
“We have 25,000 students studying on the Gold Coast annually and our strength is really in our diversity,” she said.
“We are seeing strong growth in not just higher education, but also schools such as Southport State High Independent Public School, vocational education and English language institutes.
“We are really working on encouraging students to transition into more courses when they are here, and to be honest, it is not a hard sell. Once they arrive, the students love this city.”
This article was originally published on Study Gold Coast as Gold Coast is the future for Chinese student Clark.