BEIJING, 25th February 2021— The majority of Australian-China education businesses reported a decrease in business confidence and deteriorating attitudes towards Australian education in China.
The following key findings are derived from a recent survey conducted by AustCham China, from Education focused members on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent state of Sino-Australian bilateral relations.
Australia-China bilateral tensions have had a significant negative impact on business over the past year. 62% have said that attitudes towards Australian education in China have deteriorated and similarly over half said that confidence in the Chinese market has decreased.
This is an increasingly anxious time for providers and students alike. The importance of the Education sector to the Australian economy, its dedicated workforce and the hundreds of thousands of students and their families, cannot be understated.
- Nick Coyle, CEO and Executive Director of the China-Australian Chamber of Commerce, Beijing
Schools showed the largest decrease in confidence (62%) in the Chinese market, with universities not far behind (57%). The impact of COVID-19 on the education sector has resulted in an increased investment/presence online (53%), and worrying reductions to staff headcounts, investment and remuneration across the board.
The top three business risks facing the education sector were equally Australia-China trade relations (71%) and on-going COVID-19 disruptions (70%), with substitution risk (53%) for Australian education to other countries as its third.
Diversification also took up an important part of the survey. When asked how easy education related businesses could diversify their China-related business to other countries in the region, more than half (55%) said it would be difficult, with universities and the public sector reporting the most difficulty.
AustCham gave respondents a chance to share the most significant issues facing education businesses in Australia and China. Border restrictions due to COVID-19, poor government-to-government relations, as well as diversification and investment prevailed as the most urgent issues.
Education businesses want an easing of bilateral relations, more support for Australian- China education companies and organizations by the Australian media, as well as a better environment for long-term planning and building strategic partnerships.
Respondents urged for more government-to-government dialogue to ease travel restrictions, particularly to get staff and international students repatriated. One member of the education sector in the survey said, “Rebuilding the bilateral trade relationship is the key and opening business travel is second.”
In regard to correspondence courses, exports increased from AUD $8 million in the 12 months to September 2019 to AUD $1.8 billion in the 12 months to September 2020.
The education sector holds significant importance within the Australian economy and is listed fourth as the largest goods and services export. In 2019 alone education contributed AUD $40.3 billion to the Australian economy, supporting 250,000 jobs in the process.
About the survey
AustCham China received 112 responses from Education businesses across China and Australia. The survey asked questions related to Australian business sentiment and attitudes, the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses, as well as areas like diversification and the most significant issues currently facing the education sector.
For any inquiries related to the reports or surveys, please contact Nick Coyle, CEO of AustCham China (Nick.Coyle@austcham.org).
The Chamber has an active Education Industry group which meets regularly, in person and virtually, formally and informally, with a wide network of members with experience in the education sectors based in China. It remains ready to support Australian education in China.
About AustCham China:
The China-Australia Chamber of Commerce (AustCham China) was established in 1996 and has as its goal the advancement of the broader Australia-China business relationship through the effective representation of its 400 members. We achieve this through building connections between our members and broader stakeholders in Australia and China, delivery of effective advocacy programs and provision of information and insights through our business events and online platform.
Core to our ability to deliver on our mission are our member-led working groups. We release industry specific position papers throughout the year, as well as the most comprehensive survey and report of China focused Australian business through our Doing Business in China report alongside the Australia China Business Council (ACBC) and the Business Council of Australia (BCA).
The Chamber regularly engages with government and other key stakeholders on issues of concern to members, and actively contributes to the public debate.
AustCham China is headquartered in Beijing with offices in Guangzhou and Chengdu and works closely with AustCham Shanghai and AustCham Hong Kong.
To view the full report, click here