Parents likely to shun Australia
Saturday May 24  Borneo Post

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KUCHING: While news of possible higher course fees in Australian universities may add further financial burden to many parents, local institutions of higher learning view the announcement made by Australian treasurer Peter Costello as positive.

Many felt that the higher fees might result in students seeking alternatives to reduce the cost of gaining their degree, particularly those of the middle to lower income groups.

This is especially so considering that international students taking Australian university courses could expect to pay at least A$113 million (RM280.8 million) in extra fees under plans announced recently.
Costello said the government wanted the money to promote Australian education overseas and ensure courses taught met "rigorous academic standards.

This would largely be financed by extra charges for overseas students, he said, adding that under the reforms to make the higher education system more market responsive, universities would be able to charge premium fees for their most popular courses.
Inti College Sarawak deputy

Principal Then Nyuk P'in that the hike in Australian university fees would have a definite impact on the number of Malaysian students transferring to Australia .They might opt to stay longer in Malaysia under the 2+1 programme or study entirely here under the 3+0 arrangement, she said.
She said students remained longer in Malaysia would definitely reduce cost, while those who opted for 3+0 programme would be rest assured of cost-effectiveness. "Or they might opt for a less expensive country," she said, adding that this could be another possible scenario should the fees become too much of a financial burden to parents

And should the financial burden be too much, they would likely look for other alternatives for their children, she said. Institute of Business and Management Studies (IBMS) deputy chief executive officer Caroline Yeo said the fee structure offered by the college would be unaffected by the fees hike.

"We are covered by the agreement and contracts made (prior to the hike)," she assured.
She added that Australia had the right to increase their university fees, but by doing so, would make local institutions and universities all the more attractive.

Yeo also speculated that it was a likely that more students would go through local institutions of higher learning and universities.
"Those students who were already doing their courses would also likely opt to spend more time here and less time there," she said.

However, many students remain indifferent to the fees hike especially those who have the option of studying elsewhere.
It is the parents who have children studying or aiming to study in Australia that were frantic over any fee hike.

Commercial writer Joanne Ngeaw, who intends to stop work to further her studies next year, is not
at all fazed.

"I was planning to do my degree in New Zealand anyway so at least I don't have to take Australia into consideration, especially if the fees are higher," she said.
Those that would be more worried were people who were already doing their course or planning to do their course in Australia, she said.

As for 19-year-old student Yvonne Tan, she felt that she had no choice but to continue her postgraduate studies in Australia as to transfer to another university would mean that all the subjects she had done so far might have been in vain.

"I am not sure I could get the accreditation for what I had already done," she said, adding that she may as well continue with her current course.
She also noted that the fee hike was unreasonable considering that the exchange rate was in favour of the Australian dollar.

"My parents already have to pay so much because of the rising exchange rate, but to have to deal with increased fees is just too much," she said, adding that should the exchange rate go up further she might have to study in the US.

A parent, Agnes Chin lamented that she would have to seriously reconsider sending her children to Australia if the fees hike was too high.

She said it would first depend on how high the new fees would be compared to the current fees.
"It would depend on the new fees structure," she said, adding that she was also considering going through the local institutions if the total cost of her children's education was lower.
Another parent, Abdul Rahman said he too would reconsider sending his son to Australia if the fees hike was too high.

"If my son can do his course in Kuching all the better," he said, pointing out that there was still time to consider as his son was still doing his SPM this year.

Australian government statistics show that almost 80 percent of the 200,000 international students who take Australian university courses every year are from Asia, generating A$5 billion in export earning annually.

Singapore was Australia's top education market in 2001-2002, with 22,000 students, followed by Hong Kong (20,655), Malaysia (18,500), China (17,000), Indonesia (9,900) and India (6,200).
Foreign students make up 18 percent of the total Australian student population but contribute over 30 percent towards some university budgets.