Warrnambool’s Deakin Unviersity campus has set itself a goal to have 150 international students by 2020.
It comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison has thrown his support behind more overseas students studying at regional campuses.
Warrnambool campus director Alistair McCosh fully supported Mr Morrison's stance.
"It's early days, and there’s no real indication what it entails, but any opportunity for Warrnambool to see an increase in our numbers would be welcome,” he said.
Mr McCosh said the university was actively working to secure more international students, and had recently held events to attract people to the campus.
“We had eight education agents people from different Asian markets spend three days here with a focus on the opportunities in Warrnambool,” he said.
“They spent a full day on campus where we had our current international students speak about their experience and to our academic staff.”
He said the campus had a “strategic focus” on growing its international student market.
“If there’s an opportunity for more regional students we have to ensure we sell ourselves,” he said.
“We've got to get to market and influence the students to understand the regions are a great place to study. They are affordable and safe. If the government can help promote and market the regional campuses then that's a positive.”
He said Warrnambool students received individual attention and there was smaller class numbers.
“We have 60 international students at the moment,” he said. “Our goal is to secure 150 by the end of 2020. It's about the opportunity it brings domestic students at the campus as well. They bring vibrancy to the place.”
Six international students studying nursing are also working at Mercy Place and Lyndoch Living as personal care attendants.
Warrnambool-based National Tertiary Education Union vice president (Academic) Deakin branch Dr Michael Callaghan said encouraging international students to regional campuses “made a lot of sense”.
“There are lots of regional campuses like Warrnambool that have an excess supply of accommodation facilities and state of the art teaching facilities which would benefit the international student experience,” he said.
“On the Warrnambool campus if we go back 22 years when we had a very active relationship with Malaysia and Indonesia, the campus at the time had a very healthy relationship with international students.
“The Warrnambool campus forged a lot of relationships back then. There were hundreds that came out and graduated with degrees from Warrnambool before international education became such a huge market.”
He suggested there could be a strong way forward if studying at regional campuses could be incentivised.
“I would be very hopeful the government is working on a program to incentivise universities to encourage international enrolments,” he said.
“At the moment we need the government to do something that makes it attractive for university policy makers to say ‘hey we need to look at ways to encourage students to enroll in the regions’.
“Those who have been through a regional education from an international perspective will have fond memories of how good it is but at the moment we are limited in getting that message across. Regional universities are also often away from many distractions and so students are more likely to be able to focus on the job of getting their studies done.”
Dr Callaghan said in some capital cities there was issues with questionable living circumstances for international students, whereas in Warrnambool there was plenty of accommodation options.
He agreed regional campuses were quite often safer.
“As a marketer I’d suggest an international student can come to a regional campus and the fees and charges could well be less than to live and study in a high-cost capital city campus,” he said.