Economy

Education market to benefit as dollar dips below US97 cents

Engel Schmidl /

While shoppers may be complaining about the drop in the Australian dollar over the past week, industry experts say the education market is set to receive at least some benefit as prospective students eye possible financial gains.

The comments come as the dollar continued its fall, dropping below $US0.96c last night as fears over the European financial situation continue to unfold.

The dollar was trading at US97.5c at 10.30 AEST this morning.

A spokesperson for the Tourism and Transport Forum – the peak body for the tourism, transport and infrastructure sectors – told SmartCompany that while the education market has stagnated over the past few years due to factors such as tighter visa restrictions, the prospect for more activity as the dollar falls is encouraging.

“The dollar’s decline will be one factor that will help the education market over time,” a spokesperson says.

“But the dollar is about one of three or four factors that really need to change in order for things to be affected.”

The spokesperson told SmartCompany that Australia’s international reputation has been damaged by incidents over the past few years – including violent attacks on students – and that tighter visa restrictions have also deterred prospective students.

The TTF also warns the dollar will need to maintain a lower position over a longer period of time for students and investors to realise any significant gains.

“Many of these students are going to be here less than a year, and some of them will be here less than two years. So a small decline in the dollar is going to make only a nominal change.”

“But if people see the dollar trending downwards it’ll be good, as they can see a longer-term effect.”

“They do spend a great deal of money, so even small changes are great for the education market.”

However, CommSec economist Craig James says these benefits may not last for the rest of the year.

“Our currency strategists believe the Aussie is having a temporary bout of weakness and that the dollar will rise over the second half of the year…we think it’ll end the year at $US1.05c,” James says.

“Currency is only one factor in the education market that will convince people to come to Australia. What people want to have is the prestige of getting a university degree here – and they’ll weigh that need against the long-term pain of the value of the dollar.”

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