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Exporting and benefiting from education

The export of Australian education services is an excellent example of the increasing commercialisation of services. Today's Australian Financial Review (AFR) contains a number of reports with good news on trends in the export of Australian education services. The OECD recognises Australia is among the world leaders in cross-border education. 

Commercialisation of education services

The lead article on page 3 of the AFR is triggered by revised education export statistics recently released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). On revising its data, the ABS has found (accordingly to the AFR article) that the value of education exports in 2005/06 has overtaken transport exports and may creep forward to rise above the value of exports of tourism. The value of education exports for 2005-06 has been upgraded to $A9.8 billion. In 2005-06 education imports totalled only about $A720 million, while tourism imports exceeded $A11 billion.

This is good news for our firm, collaborators and clients (which include not-for-profit organisations, publishers and consultancies engaged in the production and export of education and training services). A significant trend we have seen since 2000 is the increasing number of consultants needing services to help them productise their services and then go on to develop legal and management documents to manage, commercialise and contract those services.

E-learning and distance learning services

A separate AFR article today by Luke Slattery ("Growth lies over the horizon") notes that "According to the latest figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Australian universities now enrol 33 per cent of their foreign students offshore." This "institutional mobility" is noted a part of the next wave which is said to involve courses "...delivered by distance learning through franchises and twinning arrangements with overseas partners or at Australian branch campuses in pursuit of students."

About six years ago I was engaged by one Australian university to advise on its acquisition of an e-learning software system, where at the time the focus was almost exclusively on local students. Clearly more and more the focus is on local and overseas students for e-learning.

Singapore's ambitions here are well-known and neatly described as a desire to become the Boston of the East.

Connection between graduate numbers and mean housing values

The benefits of tertiary education are becoming clearer. In 2002 Richard Florida's The Rise of the Creative Class was published. It was followed by his book Cities and the Creative Class in 2004 and then The Flight of the Creative Class in 2005. Florida is the Hirst Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University.

This month, in The Atlantic online, Florida's article titled "Where the brains are" contains a remarkable graphic illustrating an apparent connection in the US between two columns of statistics.

  • The first column shows changes between 1970 and 2000 in various US cities in the number of college graduates per 100 people.
  • The second column shows the rate of increase in mean housing values in those cities between 1950 and 2000.
The background to the graphic is the argument that graduates are migrating to certain cities. The graphic illustrates and ends this post.
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