THE number of international students starting study in Adelaide has risen for the first time in three years - and a survey reveals they are loving the experience.
Federal Government figures show 158 more overseas students have started at a South Australian education institution than at the same time last year.
The survey found they feel safe, recommend studying in SA and would stay permanently if they could.
Adelaidenow surveyed 150 international students and found 94 per cent of respondents said they either felt very safe or mostly safe in Adelaide, 65 per cent said they would like to live in Adelaide permanently and two-thirds (66 per cent) said they would encourage others to study in SA.
And 90 per cent said they had not experienced racism during their time in SA.
Just over half of the respondents came from China, followed by India (11.92 per cent) and Singapore (6 per cent), and studied across disciplines such as engineering, nursing and law.
The Government figures show 7114 students from overseas started study here during the first four months of 2013, up 158 students compared with the same time last year.
Education Adelaide chief executive Denise von Wald said it is the first time positive growth has been recorded in this area since 2009 and brings the total number of international students in Adelaide to 20, 968.
She said the Federal Government figures for April are the "first green shoots of recovery" for a sector that's faced serious challenges as the world economy has slowed in recent years.
She said the figures also highlight a 40 per cent jump in the number of new students enrolling in university pathway programs. These act as a bridging course to get students into tertiary education quicker.
"We've worked hard with our partners overseas to raise the profile of Adelaide and it seems to be working, " she said. "Other factors that have contributed to the rise are changes that have streamlined the visa application process in the past six months and the drop in the Australian dollar."
Other findings of The Advertiser- Sunday Mail survey include:
ALMOST 90 per cent (87.3) said staff at their university is very supportive or mostly supportive.
ASKED what they like least about Adelaide, the cost of living rated highest, closely followed by a lack of things to do on the weekend.
While many spoke highly of life in SA, among those to criticise Adelaide was one student who wrote there is "nothing to do, nothing to see, nothing to learn outside the classroom". Several students said shops close too early.
UniSA deputy vice-chancellor (international and advancement) Nigel Relph said the survey results overall reinforced the high-quality learning environment his university offers.
Matt Taverner, from Flinders University's International Office, said many postgraduate mature-age students were impressed with the family-friendly nature of Adelaide.
University of Adelaide Pro-Vice Chancellor (International) Professor Kent Anderson said overall student feedback has improved since the university opened its Hub Central last year.
University of Adelaide student Yujin Lee is studying here as part of a 10-month exchange from Korea.
"Adelaide is very peaceful, " she said.
Fellow international student Alicia Tan, 22, of Singapore, agreed.
"Singapore is very city ... Adelaide is very country. It's a slower pace of life - you get to enjoy life more."
By Callie Watson
Sourced from The Australian