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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 7 Hansard (16 August) . . Page.. 2265..


DR FOSKEY (continuing):

education matters. They would not have chosen for the guillotine of this budget to come down on the very thing that makes Canberra a very attractive city. Why else would we have it on the web site? To attract people to come from Sydney to Canberra. Education is what makes Canberra what it is. People are our main resource. We are a service economy, and here we are cutting this investment in our young people.

Debate (on motion by Mr Barr ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Education-international students

MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (4.36): I move:

That this Assembly recognises that:

(1) international students at ACT tertiary institutions make a valuable contribution to campus life and to the broader ACT community; and

(2) student organisations provide invaluable support for international students in fostering a positive educational and cultural experience.

Australia is currently hosting more than 140,000 international university students, around 4,000 of whom call Canberra home. The flow of international students into our universities has continued to increase over the past years despite constant predictions that numbers will falter. According to the Department of Education, Science and Training, international students contribute annually around $7.5 billion in export earnings to our country's economy. This makes international education Australia's third largest service export industry. However, the students and the staff at the Australian National University and the University of Canberra know that the most valuable advantages gained from international students living in our city are not economic. The social and cultural benefits from campus life, and indeed the broader Canberra community, are immeasurable.

The international students studying at the ANU and the University of Canberra gain first-class qualifications from the time they spend at these institutions. But these two institutions also gain something from international students who study there. International students bring a fresh perspective to their study, which enriches the experience of domestic students and staff. The interactive nature of tutorial classes at our universities is one example of the unique contribution that international students make to the learning environment. Consider how a political science class studying the nature of capitalism is enhanced by the presence of students from China, a nation only just emerging from its communist history, or how a student from Malaysia can bring another level of understanding to the economic phenomenon of the "Asian tigers". Imagine a comparative constitutional law course to which an American student brings distinctive practical knowledge that Australian students would not otherwise have. This is the worldwide perspective that is now standard in our university classrooms and our students are all the better for it.

These cross-cultural experiences extend far beyond the classroom into everyday campus life. I had an enjoyable experience earlier this year of attending, with my colleague the Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Mr John Hargreaves, the ACT National Union of Students Harmony Day celebrations. It was a day of cultural dance, food, music and


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