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Top reasons people study on the Coast

Jenna Rathbone | April 2017

From its world-class educational standards and stellar university facilities to its bold lifestyle and rich multicultural offering, there are endless reasons why international students venture to the Gold Coast.

Home to more than 200 education and training providers, including three world-class universities and specialist institutions, the Gold Coast offers a range of innovative courses and globally recognised qualifications.

Students are groomed on the Gold Coast to go beyond their potential, and are encouraged to enjoy a full social life, with the city’s envious lifestyle a major drawcard for domestic and international students.

Most recently, the Gold Coast was dubbed the best beach-side student city in the world, featured in the QS Best Student Cities report in 2016.

However, the city’s unparalleled natural landscape – which includes 57 kilometres of coastline and 21,000 hectares of rainforest – is not the only reason more and more international students are choosing to study on the shores of the Gold Coast.

Approximately 25,000 international students were studying on the Gold Coast in 2016, up 31 per cent from two years prior, according to the Australian Government Department of Education and Training.

Griffith University, which is placed among the top 20 research universities in Australia, says the Gold Coast’s evolution as an education hotspot is due to countless reasons.

“Being placed in international rankings of top student cities, the additional resourcing the City Council has put in to Study Gold Coast and a willingness of different parts of the sector together have all contributed, in addition to the obvious natural advantages the city has to offer students,” says Professor Sarah Todd, Griffith University Vice President (Global).

Griffith’s Gold Coast campus has seen significant development over the last few years, with the opening of the $150 million Griffith Health Centre, the launch of the $38 million Griffith Business School building and the construction of the Griffith Aquatic Centre.

In addition, Griffith is the university partner of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. Through this partnership, students have access to more than 250 internships and have the opportunity to be closely involved in the build up to and delivery of the biggest event in Australia this decade.

Opportunities will also continue to arise with the development of the Heath and Knowledge Precinct with more than 9,200 jobs within the precinct and the potential for more than 11,000.

Griffith offers a comprehensive range of academic programs and has enhanced its reputation through an improved position in various international rankings of universities. Griffith University ranks in the top three per cent of universities worldwide.

Professor Todd says international students are looking at both what the educational institution has to offer as well as the lifestyle and, increasingly, the likelihood of enhancing their employability skills while they are studying.

“While the Gold Coast has always been a popular tourist destination, it is now cementing its position as a serious study destination. The main challenge is balancing our positioning around being a great lifestyle choice and relatively small, friendly city while also letting students know that there are opportunities for employment and work experience both while they are studying and when they graduate,” she says.

“The recent launch of the Study Gold Coast Employability Strategy, as well as all the investment that Griffith is making in this area, is an important step forward and will be seen as attractive by international students.

“We also have strong partnerships in place with a number of overseas institutions that know the quality of the academic offering and the excellent student experience we offer which sees students coming to spend anything from a semester of their degree study with us through to starting in our English Language Institute and progressing through to full degree study.”

Education and training contributes more than $1.4 billion to the Gold Coast economy (2014/15). During the past decade, it has experienced strong growth and seen the value it contributes to the economy increase by around $460 million, or 47 per cent.

Meanwhile, around $754 million is derived from international students – making it a pivotal economic pillar alongside the traditional tourism and property drivers.

Bond University is snagging a big slice of international students to the city with 36 per cent of its population comprising international students.

Bond’s Director International, Cheryl Jolliffe, unashamedly says Australia’s Gold Coast is one of the best places in the world to live and one of the best places in the world to study.

“The city is vibrant and modern and boasts a strong community spirit with a relaxed lifestyle second to none in Australia,” she says.

“The Gold Coast lifestyle is also diverse, with literally something for everyone. We have a vibrant cultural scene with live theatre, art exhibitions and plenty of music venues; or you can hit the surf, join a local sporting team and get active in one hundred different ways. There are nightclubs, theme parks, great shopping centres, multiplex cinemas, wineries and a different restaurant for every night of the year.

“Another plus for international students is that the Gold Coast is a very multicultural society that is tolerant and accepting of all races and religions, and best of all, we’re a really friendly bunch.

Bond University is home to students from over 70 different countries and we pride ourselves on making all our students feel safe, comfortable and welcome.”

Bond University was rated by The Good Universities Guide as the top university in Australia for overall student experience in 2016 – a recognition it has held for 11 consecutive years.

With small personalised classes, mentoring by world-renowned academics and access to high-profile industry achievers, the university was also awarded a five-star rating for teaching quality.

Southern Cross University (SCU) is the third campus located on the Gold Coast and offers sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and hinterland. New facilities will open in 2017 including a 500-seat lecture theatre, contemporary learning spaces and cafés.

For the third consecutive year, SCU has been ranked number one in Australia for international students support by the International Student Barometer 2015 survey, and ranked number two in Australia for overall learning experience.

Lea Deiss is from Germany and is studying a Bachelor of Business Administration at SCU.

Deiss says the Gold Coast is an amazing place to study, offering the perfect student lifestyle.

“On one hand, the laid-back and easy-going lifestyle of the Gold Coast helps keep a healthy work-life balance,” she says.

“What is better than going to class in the morning followed by some study time at the Uni and afterwards jumping into the ocean? It really is the stuff dreams are made of.

“On the other hand, the Gold Coast is a multifaceted city with a beautiful mix of many nationalities and cultures which makes it especially easy for international students to integrate, feel at home, learn and contribute to the city and the University.

“I believe the Gold Coast is one of the most diverse and culturally rich places which make it very special compared to other study destinations around the world.

“I chose the Gold Coast because of the great study options at Southern Cross University, the amazing weather year-round and the overall lifestyle. I am convinced there is no better place in the world to study.”

Deiss was named a Mayor’s Student Ambassador for 2017, together with 30 other international and domestic students.

The Mayor’s Student Ambassador Program is designed to build and strengthen relationships between the Gold Coast community and the student population through cultural and social inclusion.

Marco Merlini is another Mayor’s Student Ambassador, studying at TAFE Queensland, based on the Gold Coast.

Originally from Portugal, Merlini is studying a Certificate III in Light Vehicle Mechanical Technology.

He says the best part about studying on the Gold Coast is the lifestyle.

“I also feel at home here as there are a lot of other international students studying here, so I feel supported with others going through the same experience,” he says.

“Also, compared the other countries, the price and the quality of the education here exceeds the competition. There are also a lot of courses to choose from, so there are more options.”

TAFE Queensland General Manager Robert Petherbridge backs this up and says TAFE Queensland offers more courses than any other training provider on the Gold Coast.

He adds that the institution has direct links with industry and employers, meaning that more of students complete their training and get jobs.

“TAFE Queensland provides the highest quality Vocational Education and Training. Our courses are varied and delivered in ways to suit the individual needs of students – whether this be face-to-face, online, flexible delivery, apprenticeships or a combination of these delivery methods,” he says.

“TAFE Queensland has won the Large Training Provider of the Year for the last two years at the Queensland Training Awards. Our teachers have extensive experience in their related fields of employment and bring this practical approach to the classroom to complement the theoretical aspects of the training. TAFE Queensland Gold Coast facilities are first class with five locations.

TAFE Queensland provides practical and industry-relevant training for more than 165,000 students across more than 900 program areas.