Melbourne's schools fight for foreigners

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 October, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 October, 1996, 12:00am

The city of Melbourne in Australia is trying to attract more foreign students Down Under.

The state government of Victoria is looking at new laws to give overseas students more benefits when they join its capital city's schools and colleges.

In the past, only pupils holding student visas could attend state schools.

But now, those with visitors' visas could be allowed to attend short-term courses.

Overseas students - already allowed to pay to attend Melbourne's private and public schools - will be able to go to state schools on a short-term basis.

Melbourne is already a favourite city for students wanting to study in Australia.

It has a reputation for quality universities and schools, a government spokesman said.

There are a number of prestigious private and religious schools, as well as the state sector, to prepare pupils for its universities.

People from overseas have valued not only the education benefits of Melbourne, but also its benefits as an excellent environment for children, said the spokesman.

Melbourne was once voted the world's most livable city.

Earlier this year it was described as Australia's safest city.

'Melbourne also has wonderful parks, gardens and sporting amenities,' he said.

The city has a large network of trains, trams and buses.

The state government spokesman said: 'All these factors have been at the forefront of parents' decision-making in sending their children to Melbourne for education.

'It is also comforting to see the Government's continuing support and encouragement for overseas students to be educated in Melbourne.

'But in addition to safety, culture and quality of education, parents must also consider the question of accommodating their children during the usual two-to five-year stay to obtain university degrees.

'In many cases there is more than one child, which makes long-term planning of quality, well-located and cost effective accommodation even more important, particularly when compared to paying rent,' the spokesman said.

Melbourne has plenty of homes in and around the central business district, within walking distance of educational institutions including the University of Melbourne and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

There is public transport to many of the city's prestigious private colleges, including Taylors, Melbourne Grammar and Wesley College.

A director of a leading firm of estate agents said there 'had never been a better time to buy in Melbourne'.

'We are seeing the beginning of the upward trend for the first time in many years, both in the cost of good sites and also cost of construction,' he said.

'The Victorian economy is strengthening.

'Now is the time to buy and take advantage of brand new apartments.' Mr Wilson said landmark sites were now available at low prices and there was great potential for capital gains.

He said property companies in the city understood the needs of overseas students and had members of staff who were proficient in Cantonese, Mandarin and other Southeast Asian dialects.

The city authorities are hoping Melbourne's culture and amenities will help attract more foreign students.

The government's positive attitude towards overseas students will, they hope, consolidate its position as a favourite location for foreign pupils.