Under the new China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), signed in Canberra on 17 November, Australian universities will foster an even deeper relationship with China in higher education and research. Under the agreement, 77 new education institutions will have the federal government’s approval to enrol students from China, joining the existing 105 Australian providers who are already able to do that.
Since 2003, formal university agreements with China had grown by 171% in 2014 and the value of these agreements to Australia in terms of productivity, trade, foreign relations and cultural understanding was significant. China became Australia's number one knowledge partner in 2012 and today 37% of foreign students taking university courses are Chinese. Their contribution to Australia’s AUD 15 billion a year (EUR 10.4 billion) education export industry also exceeds that of any other nationality. It can be expected that the newly concluded FTA will further benefit both economies from a strong collaboration between higher education institutions.