Immigrating to Australia

Australia’s clean environment, unique nature and multicultural population together with its healthy economy have made it a popular choice for immigrants. For those considering a move, here are some steps to take before starting the journey, including a brief history of migration ‘Down Under.’


A migrant nation

Australia has a history of immigration, from the ‘First Settlers’ who arrived from Britain in the 18th century, to the post-war European migrants, Vietnamese in the 1970s and newer arrivals from China, India and elsewhere.

When European settlement began in 1788, Australia’s population was estimated at around 400,000. The first migrants comprised convicts transported from Britain and Ireland, with around 80,000 arriving in Sydney through to 1840.

‘Free’ settlers soon followed, but the discovery of gold in the 1850s spurred a bigger wave of migrants. Some 600,000 arrived during this decade, including from Britain and Ireland but also Europe, China, the United States and nearby New Zealand and South Pacific.

By the time of Federation in 1901, Australia’s population was close to 4 million, of whom around one in four was born overseas. While most were of British or Irish heritage, there were also a large number of Europeans, particularly Germans, together with Chinese.

However with Federation came a change of policy, with Australia focusing on British and Irish migrants and effectively excluding immigrants from Asia or elsewhere.

Yet after World War II, the Australian government adopted a new policy: “populate or perish”. Immigrants, particularly British, were actively sought to boost the population, yet a large number also arrived from war-torn Europe, including Italians, Germans, Greeks and Poles.

Australia gradually eased its immigration policy, however it was not until 1973 when the ‘White Australia’ policy ended and all migrants were afforded equal treatment.

Following the Vietnam War, a large number of immigrants arrived from Vietnam and Cambodia, later being joined by others from East Timor, China and the Middle East.

British immigrants, previously the largest group, dropped to second behind New Zealand before being overtaken by China, with new arrivals coming from India as well as refugees from Sudan, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Since 1945, when Australia’s immigration department was established, some 7.5 million people have settled in Australia. This has helped boost the population to more than 25 million and make Australia a multicultural society.

The 2016 census showed nearly half of all Australians were born overseas or have at least one parent who was, with more than one in five Australians speaking a language other than English at home. The most common countries of birth after Australia were England (5 per cent of the population), New Zealand (2.5 per cent), China (2.3 per cent) and India (2.1 per cent).

The latest census also recorded 42,421 Japanese living in Australia, up nearly 20 per cent from the 2011 census. New South Wales state had the largest population of Japanese with some 14,000, followed by Queensland’s 12,400, Victoria’s 8,500 and around 4,200 in Western Australia.

In fiscal 2020, there were more than 7.6 million migrants living in Australia, with nearly 30 per cent of the population born overseas, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The same year saw net overseas migration to Australia of 194,400 people.

However, with Australia’s borders largely closed currently due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of new immigrants is expected to significantly decrease until borders reopen.


Migrating to Australia

Migrating to another country is a big step to make. Fortunately though, the Australian and state governments together with various non-profit organisations provide a range of assistance to migrants, making the transition easier.

The Victorian government recommends a number of steps before making the move:

  • Step 1: Research your employment options – the Victorian government provides information to make finding a job easier; there are also various employment sites, the largest being
  • Step 2: Plan your move with a pre-departure checklist – this includes finding a place to live, developing a budget and potentially using a registered migration agent to ease the process
  • Step 3: Apply for a visa – a range of visas are available, including business and investor visas, skilled migration visas, studying and training visas, family and partner visas and others. Three common ways of becoming a permanent resident include through a family-stream, work-stream or business/investor-stream permanent visa.

The Australian government’s “Beginning a Life in Australia” booklet provides helpful settlement information for newly arrived migrants and is available in 39 different languages, including Japanese.

The Queensland Government also provides a range of information, including Australian wages and conditions, public holidays and recognition of overseas qualifications.

Remember that moving overseas can be challenging, but it can also offer new opportunities and experiences that you likely would never encounter at home.

And if you need further assistance, don’t forget to talk to Hello Kids about how we can make your journey to Australia easier!


Lifestyle lessons from Australia (and Japan)

Australia has outperformed at the Tokyo Olympics, beating far larger nations to win gold medals in swimming, sailing and other events. Are there tips for Japan and other countries in Australia’s healthy, sports-loving lifestyle, which stresses work-life balance?

The Tokyo Olympics have highlighted nations’ sporting performance, with Japan and Australia among the best-performing nations in the medal tally. While Japan delivered its best result ever with 27 gold medals, Australia equalled its previous best haul with 17 gold medals, dominated by its female swimmers.

Australia’s sixth-placed finish in the medals tally is especially admirable considering its small population of around 25 million, compared to Japan’s 126 million and the even larger populations of second-ranked China (1.4 billion) and top-ranking United States (328 million).

With the world still struggling to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic, what lessons can be learned from Australia’s sporting prowess?


Healthy lifestyle

The Queensland Government provides a guide to healthier and happier lifestyles via its website, with a range of materials on fitness, food and families.

Among its tips for getting started are:

  • Make a plan – it offers a weekly meal and exercise planner
  • Add fruit and vegetables to your day – these reduce risk for heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes
  • Less sitting, more moving – physical activity not only burns excess kilojoules but also reduces stress, protects against ailments and helps sleep
  • Choose healthier options when eating out
  • Cut back on sugary drinks and replace them with water or unsweetened tea.

The guide suggests getting 30 minutes of exercise daily. For the time-poor, this can be achieved through incidental exercise such as taking the staircase instead of the elevator, or walking or cycling to work instead of driving or using public transport.

The Australian Government’s Department of Health also provides physical activity and exercise guidelines for a range of age groups.

For adults aged 18 to 64 years, physical activity is recommended for most days, with a weekly total of at least 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate activity or 1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous activity, together with strength exercises twice a week. It also recommends sedentary time be minimised and broken up to prevent long periods of sitting.

A 2012 report for the department noted a proven relationship between physical activity and reduced risk of mortality, with a significant risk reduction shown for those physically active. For example, around a quarter of all cancer is attributed to obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.


Woman feet standing on Weight Scale on wooden background

Obesity rising

Yet despite the guidelines and proven evidence concerning the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, Australians are struggling to live up to their sporty image.

In fiscal 2018, an estimated two in three of all Australians aged 18 and over were overweight or obese, particularly men, with obesity more common in older age groups.

“Overweight and obesity increases the likelihood of developing many chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, asthma, back problems, chronic kidney disease, dementia, diabetes, and some cancers…It is also associated with a higher death rate when looking at all causes of death,” the report noted.

The OECD’s “Obesity Update 2017” found the United States had the highest obesity rate, with 40 percent of its adult population aged 15 years and over considered obese. This compared to Australia’s 27.9 percent.

Japan had an obesity rate of just 4.2 percent, making it the best performing in the OECD. This reflects data showing Japanese typically consume fewer calories than Westerners, helped by healthy traditional diets, as well as high levels of incidental exercise such as walking and cycling.

Japan also enjoys world-beating life expectancy levels, with an average life expectancy for men of 81.6 years and women of 87.7 years. Japanese women have the world’s highest life expectancy, with the men second only to Switzerland.

Australia’s life expectancy is also high, with a boy born in 2017-19 likely to reach the age of 80.9 years and 85 years for a girl.


Work-life balance

Finding a suitable balance between work and daily living is “a challenge that all workers face,” according to the OECD.

“Evidence suggests that long work hours may impair personal health, jeopardise safety and increase stress,” the report notes. More time spent working means less time for other activities such as personal care or leisure, diminishing overall quality of life.

In Australia, 13 percent of employees work “very long hours,” above the OECD average of 11 percent, the report said. Full-time workers devote 60 percent of their day on average to personal care and leisure, below the average of 15 hours.

In Japan however, 17.9 percent of employees reported working very long hours, with less time than the OECD average spent on personal care and leisure.

“Parents in Japan find it difficult to combine work and family commitments. Workplace practices, private costs (housing and juku), and social norms put pressure on young people,” the OECD states.

The organisation suggests better access to childcare and improved workplace practices would enhance Japan’s work-life balance, with indications that COVID-19 restrictions are forcing changes such as teleworking on companies.

Are there lessons from the data? The evidence suggests Australians could learn from Japan on diet and incidental exercise, while Japan could improve its corporate culture to facilitate a better work-life balance.

And if you are looking for a taste of Australian lifestyles, contact Hello Kids to see what opportunities are available once COVID travel restrictions are eased.



COVID-19 vaccinations in Australia

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage globally, including in Australia. But with vaccines now being rolled out, there is hope of normal life eventually resuming, including international travel.

Australia might not have been as badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic as other nations, but it has lagged Western countries in terms of the vaccine rollout.

As of June 5, around 5 million vaccine doses had been administered nationwide, with around 20 per cent of the adult population having received their first dose.

However, at the current rate of vaccination it would take another year for the entire nation to be inoculated, compared to the government’s original target of October 2021.

This compared to the United States, where 63 per cent of adults had had at least one dose as of June 5 and Britain, where the figure was 75 per cent. In Japan though, only 9 per cent had received at least one dose, according to Reuters data.

Fortunately, Australia had only 137 active COVID-19 cases as at June 5 and a total of 910 deaths, reflecting the impact of government measures including the closure of international borders as well as state lockdowns.

The Australian government has declared that “everyone in Australia will be offered a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine,” with the Pfizer vaccine prioritised for those aged under 50 years and the AstraZeneca vaccine for those older.

The difference in vaccines followed the establishment of a link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and a rare but serious side effect, which has caused blood clots at a rate of around four to six people in every million vaccinations. The Australian government notes that “this rate is lower than the natural background occurrence of a blood clot in people who have not received the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

In a bid to speed the vaccination program, the Australian government appointed a senior military figure, Lieutenant General John Frewen, as head of a COVID-19 vaccination taskforce.

The government also announced it was planning a domestic vaccine certification program, to potentially facilitate travel exemptions for interstate travel during state lockdowns, for those already vaccinated.


Borders closed

However, with Australia’s borders closed, international travel remains off the agenda for now.

“If you’re an Australian citizen or permanent resident, you can’t leave Australia unless you get an exemption to travel or you’re travelling to a destination that’s exempt from the ban. Foreign citizens are able to depart Australia at any time,” the government’s “Smart Traveller” website states.

The only destination currently exempt from the travel ban is New Zealand.

Foreign visitors are also largely barred from entering Australia too. As of June 5, Australia’s borders remained closed to overseas visitors, with only citizens and permanent residents allowed back into the country, together with some exemptions.

Those travelling to Australia, such as from Japan, must be tested for COVID-19 72 hours or less prior to flight departure and display evidence of a negative test result at check-in.

People arriving in Australia are required to quarantine for 14 days, typically in designated quarantine hotels, together with having to comply with other state and territory travel restrictions. Such quarantine can cost up to A$3,000 per adult, depending on the location.

For Japan, Australia’s government was recommending “do not travel” as at June 6, “due to the health risks from the COVID-19 pandemic and the significant disruptions to global travel.”

The website noted that Japan had extended a state of emergency until June 20 in a number of prefectures including Tokyo.

For Australians seeking to travel to Japan, the Japanese government announced effective March 19 that a negative COVID-19 test result was required, with the test having to be conducted within 72 hours prior to departure.

Visitors entering Japan were also asked to refrain from using public transport for 14 days, quarantine at home or other designated area and provide necessary location data as required.


2022 travel?

While Australians can currently enjoy quarantine-free travel to New Zealand, there is hope of access opening up to other countries including Japan from 2022.

On May 9, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said international travel could return in 2022. He said, “We’re hoping, we’re counting, we’re banking on, of course, international travel being back to some sort of pre-COVID normality next year.”

However, the latest federal government report suggested international travel would not resume until mid-2022 at the earliest, with a quarantine program remaining in place for overseas visitors.

The Australian government has however flagged the possibility of “travel bubbles” being formed with other countries, such as Pacific Island nations, depending on the status of their COVID-19 infections.

Singapore, Japan and South Korea have been named as among the next potential destinations for quarantine-free travel.

Yet with the vaccine rollout globally still far from complete, it appears a quick return to normal international travel is unlikely, particularly with newer and more deadly variants of COVID-19 now appearing.

For Australia-Japan travel, it appears the earliest date for quarantine-free travel could be mid-to-late 2022, likely requiring such travellers to be fully vaccinated first.


Australia’s postwar history: Did you know?

Australia has grown up a lot since the end of the Second World War. Here’s a look at some key historical turning points from the 1950s to the modern day, to inform your next visit ‘Down Under.’


1950s: Suburban dream

The 1950s saw an economic boom in Australia of full employment and low inflation. New suburbs were developed with detached houses on large blocks near the city as Australians enjoyed the “suburban dream.”

Australia’s population swelled to 10 million on the back of postwar European immigration, including from Greece, Italy, Holland and Germany, as well as its traditional source, Britain.

Liberal Party leader Robert Menzies regained office in 1949 and ruled through to 1966, becoming Australia’s longest serving prime minister.

Major events of the decade included the British royal tour of 1954 and the arrival of television in 1956, also the year of Melbourne’s Summer Olympics. The decade was mostly peaceful too, despite Australia’s involvement in the Korean War (1950-1953) and the ongoing threat of the Cold War.

Australia-Japan ties enjoyed a renaissance, with the signing of the Australia-Japan commerce agreement in 1957 spurring a wave of bilateral trade and investment. 


1960s: Protests and prosperity

The 1960s marked a turning point with the children of the postwar era coming of age and exerting their influence. Large-scale public protests were held against conscription and the Vietnam War, together with campaigns for women’s equality and the rights of Indigenous Australians.

Culturally, Elvis Presley and the Beatles ruled the airwaves, with an estimated 300,000 people welcoming the British band to Adelaide.

In 1966, Australia welcomed then U.S. President Lyndon Johnston, the first visit by a U.S. president. Menzies’ successor, Harold Holt welcomed the U.S. leader with the slogan, “All the way with LBJ.”

Economically, the decade also saw the start of a mining boom, with increased exports of minerals such as iron ore fuelling Japan’s industrialisation.


1970s: It’s time

The 1970s was a period of great change for Australia, marked by the 1972 election of the left-wing Labor party led by Gough Whitlam. Campaigning under the slogan “It’s time,” Labor enacted a raft of reforms, including ending the ‘White Australia’ immigration policy, withdrawing Australian troops from Vietnam and enacting free university education and national healthcare.

The end of the restrictive immigration policy opened the door to a wave of Vietnamese refugees and other immigrants, marking the beginning of a multicultural Australia.

Economically, in 1973 an oil price shock caused by OPEC disrupted the global and Australian economy, leading to sharply higher inflation and rising unemployment. 

In 1975, amid political turmoil, the Whitlam government was dismissed by the governor-general, John Kerr, under the authority of Britain’s Queen. Whitlam was replaced by Liberal leader Malcolm Fraser, who ruled until 1983.


1980s: Greed is good

The 1980s saw an economic revolution characterised by the ‘greed is good’ ethos of the 1987 U.S. movie, Wall Street. Young, upwardly mobile professionals known as “yuppies” were seen enjoying the fruits of prosperity with their imported cars and smart suits.

Unfortunately, the stock market crashed on October 19, 1987, a day known as ‘Black Monday’ for its global impacts. Australia plunged into recession, with Labor treasurer Paul Keating describing it as the recession Australia “had to have.”

Culturally, “Advance Australia Fair” became Australia’s official national anthem in 1984, replacing the British anthem, with green and gold becoming Australia’s colours.

Labor’s Bob Hawke ruled as leader from 1983 to 1991, gaining a record high approval rating of 75% in 1984 and enacting a range of deregulatory reforms. Hawke also famously celebrated Australia winning the America’s Cup yacht race in 1983, declaring that “any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up [to work] today is a bum.”

The fall of the Berlin wall in November 1989 also marked a new era, with the end of the Cold War heralding a new phase in global relations.


1990s: Recession and recovery

Japan’s ‘bubble economy’ crashed in 1990 and Australia also experienced a downturn at the start of the 1990s. Unemployment reached a record high 11.4% in 1992, with airline and bank failures hitting the business sector hard.

Socially, increased immigration resulted in nearly one in four Australians being born overseas, representing some 100 countries. The 1990s also saw the arrival of the internet and mobile phones, heralding a new era of communications.

Politically, Paul Keating ended Bob Hawke’s reign in a successful leadership challenge in 1991. However, after 13 years in office, Labor suffered a landslide defeat to the conservative Liberal-National coalition in 1996, led by John Howard, who ruled until 2007.

Overseas, Australian military forces supported the U.S.-led Iraq War in 1990. Closer to home, Australian troops led a U.N. peacekeeping force into East Timor in 1999. 


2000s: Celebrations and terror

The new decade began with a celebration for the new millennium, with Sydney hosting the Summer Olympics in 2000 and the centenary of Australia’s federation being marked on January 1, 2001. Economically, the growth of the internet led to a “dot-com boom” on the stock market which saw massive gains for internet-based companies.

However, terrorist attacks on New York’s World Trade Center in September 2001 signalled the start of the global “war on terror” with Australia contributing troops to U.S.-led campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Ordinary Australians also felt the effects of the war, with Islamic extremists bombing a bar in Bali, Indonesia, killing 88 Australian tourists.

In 2008, the global financial crisis (GFC) plunged the world into recession. However, the ‘Lucky Country’ managed to avoid a significant downturn, thanks to government spending and a mining boom driven by China’s rapid industrialisation.

Politically, Australia saw change again with John Howard’s long-serving government losing office in the 2007 election to Labor, led by Kevin Rudd. Rudd’s changes included ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and an apology to Indigenous Australians for the “Stolen Generations.”


2010s: Political topsy-turvy

Australia sailed into the new decade on the back of a seemingly unending boom, with the nation continuing to enjoy economic growth despite the GFC.

Yet while the economy remained stable, politically the decade was marked by a revolving door of leaders knifed by their own parliamentary colleagues. Kevin Rudd was the first to go, falling prey to his Labor party rival Julia Gillard in 2010 before snatching back the top job in 2013. 

Liberal leader Tony Abbott then trumped Rudd at the 2013 general election, before he felt the pain of a political backstabbing just two years later from his colleague Malcolm Turnbull. 

Turnbull however suffered the same misfortune, being overthrown by Scott Morrison in 2019. It all seemed very different to Japan’s period of leadership stability under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Natural disasters hit hard however, starting with the Brisbane floods in 2011 and followed by the bushfire disasters of 2020, known as “Black Summer” for burning some 1.8 million hectares and killing an estimated billion animals.

In 2020, Australia was hit by the global COVID-19 pandemic, with the nation quickly shutting its borders to non-residents. The success of such measures has been shown by its limited toll from the virus, with 909 deaths reported as of March 31, 2021 among a population of more than 25 million.

As of April 2021, vaccines were slowly being distributed nationwide, with hopes of international travel resuming later that year or in 2022.


Did you know?

  • In 1957, Australia became the first nation to sign a trade pact with Japan since the end of World War II.
  • Bob Hawke, one of Australia’s most popular leaders, famously held the world record for drinking a yard glass of beer in under 12 seconds during his time at Britain’s Oxford University
  • Rosemary Follett was the first woman to lead an Australian government when she became chief minister of the Australian Capital Territory in 1989; Julia Gillard became the first female prime minister in 2010
  • The first Japanese settlers arrived in Australia in the late 1800s, working in the pearling industry.




Australia’s economy: The ‘Lucky Country’

Known as the ‘Lucky Country,’ Australia’s economy enjoyed a world-beating 28-year winning streak until stopped in its tracks by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, with the situation gradually returning to normal, the good times could be back soon for the land Down Under.


Quick comparisons – Australia vs Japan

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) ranks Australia as the world’s 13th largest economy, with nominal gross domestic product (GDP) for the nation of 25 million people amounting to an estimated US$1.3 trillion.

In comparison, Japan, with a population of 126 million, ranked third with GDP of US$4.9 trillion, behind China’s US$14.8 trillion and the United States’ US$20 trillion.

In its October 2020 “World Economic Outlook” report, the IMF projected GDP growth for Japan of negative 5.3 per cent in 2020, rebounding to a positive 2.3 per cent expansion in 2021.

The OECD has similar forecasts for Japan in its December outlook. For Australia, it expects its economy to shrink by 3.8 per cent in 2020 but record positive 3.2 per cent growth in 2021.

Inflation in Australia is expected to stay low, at just 0.7 per cent in 2020 and 1.6 per cent in 2021, according to the OECD.

Unemployment has also only risen slightly due to the COVID-19 shutdown, reaching 7 per cent in October 2020 but falling to 6.8 per cent in November, although still well above Japan’s 2.9 per cent.

Despite a massive increase in government spending in response to the pandemic, Australia’s general government gross debt was estimated by the OECD at 57.7 per cent of GDP in 2020, compared to Japan’s 241 per cent.

Looking ahead, Capital Economics sees Australia’s economy recovering in 2021, with the London-based consultancy tipping a 4.5 per cent expansion next year. Depending on the extent of the coronavirus, which has flared up again recently in Sydney, it expects activity to recover to pre-virus levels by the second quarter.


Economic structure

Until COVID-19 hit, Australia’s economy was seemingly unstoppable, boosted by its growing population and exports of energy and minerals together with education, tourism and other services.

Australia is a major agricultural, energy and mining producer, with its top merchandise exports as of fiscal 2019 comprising iron ore (A$77 billion), coal (A$69 billion) and natural gas (A$49 billion). Japan represents Australia’s second-largest export market, accounting for nearly 16 per cent of merchandise exports.

Nevertheless, the services sector is the largest part of the economy, accounting for around 60 per cent of GDP and four out of five jobs.

In 2019, Australia’s GDP per capita was estimated at US$53,559 on a purchasing power parity basis, compared to Japan’s US$45,546.

Australia’s main exports to Japan in fiscal 2019 comprised natural gas (A$20 billion), coal (A$19.3 billion), iron ore (A$5.7 billion) and beef (A$2.3 billion), with its main imports from Japan including passenger cars (A$7.9 billion), refined petroleum (A$4 billion) and goods vehicles (A$1.8 billion).

Australia had investments in Japan totalling A$112 billion as of 2018, compared to Japan’s A$229 billion invested in Australia. For Japan, Australia was its ninth-largest export destination in 2018, with Australia being its third-largest source of imports.

A free-trade agreement between Australia and Japan which came into force in 2015 should further boost investment and trade between the two nations, which have highly complementary economies. For example, Australia exports beef and gas to Japan, while Japan delivers manufactured products such as cars and electronics.


Student job opportunities

Australia’s expected recovery from COVID-19 should see a return to normalcy in its education and retail sectors, boosting job opportunities for students.

For students, part-time work can range from restaurants and shops to childcare and fruit picking. Charities and various other non-government organisations also offer volunteer and other work experience for students (see here for a list).

Study Australia has an online “Student Starter Kit” which can provide a guide to student employability, based on a personalised profile. Importantly, international students working in Australia have the same protections as other Australians in the workplace, such as the minimum wage (currently A$19.84 per hour, or JPY 1,576).

The Department of Home Affairs has information on the various visas available for international students, including working holiday visas, while the Japanese Embassy and various consulates also provide information for Japanese citizens in Australia.

Longer term, Australia’s rising population and healthy economic outlook point to increasing opportunities for Japanese businesses and entrepreneurs. An increasing number of Japanese companies, ranging from drinks makers to home builders and technology firms to trading houses and banks, have established operations Down Under to take advantage of its growing market.

Looking for more information on the opportunities in Australia? Ask Hello Kids to point you in the right direction and ensure your son or daughter has the maximum opportunities from their studies!

Where is the most advanced education in the world?

Everyone wants the best possible education for their kids. But where in the world can you find it?

Before getting started, it is important to consider that finding the best education for your child comes down to a range of factors, including personal preference, willingness to travel, hobbies and interests and available resources.

The best school for an academic top performer may be completely different to a sports star, while adopting to a new environment can be challenging for some children.

However, if you are willing to look globally, various data on international performance is available to guide your choice.


Top 20 countries for international students

A good guide to the best countries for overseas students comes from UNESCO. The U.N. cultural agency collects data on which countries attract the most overseas students to their universities.

The winner is the United States, which continues to attract the largest number of international students.

According to 2014 data, the United States ranked top, followed by Britain, France and Australia, with Japan placed seventh.

The number of international students in the United States has continued to grow, reaching more than one million for four straight years through to 2019, according to the Institute of International Education. This was led by students from China (370,000), India (202,000) and South Korea (52,000), while Japan ranked eighth with 18,000.

The latest data from the Australian Government showed there were around 670,000 international students in the country from January – September 2020, led by students from China, India, Nepal, Vietnam and Brazil.


Top university rankings

Another guide to the best destination for your child’s future studies is world university rankings.

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020 ranked almost 1,400 universities across 92 countries, with the survey putting British and U.S. universities at the top of the list.

Britain’s University of Oxford ranked top, followed by the California Institute of Technology and Britain’s University of Cambridge. The next top performers were all U.S. institutions, comprising Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Princeton University, Harvard University, Yale University and the University of Chicago.

University of Melbourne was Australia’s top performer, ranked 32nd, while the University of Tokyo was Japan’s best in 36th place.

A separate survey, the QS World University Rankings, also scores U.S. and British universities highly.

Its 2020 survey ranked MIT top, followed by its U.S. rivals Stanford and Harvard, with Oxford rated fourth. However, it also scored Singapore universities highly, with the Nanyang Technological University Singapore and the National University of Singapore ranked equal 11th.


Top-performing students

Student performance can indicate which countries’ education systems are the best performing worldwide. The OECD’s PISA triennial international survey is a guide in this regard, measuring 15-year-olds’ ability to use their reading, mathematics and science knowledge and skills to meet real-life challenges.

Reading was the main subject assessed in the latest international survey, PISA 18, with 79 countries and economies surveyed. PISA 2018 defined reading literacy as “understanding, using, evaluating, reflecting on and engaging with texts in order to achieve one’s goals, to develop one’s knowledge and potential and to participate in society.”

The results showed Canada, Estonia, Finland and Ireland were the highest-performing OECD countries in reading, while students in China and Singapore scored significantly higher overall.

Japanese students overall performed above average in reading, mathematics and science, while Australian students were above average in reading and science but around average in mathematics.

However, there are wide variations in educational models. Finland, which has been a top performer since the first PISA survey in 2000, has a “child-centred” model with free education for all, from primary to higher education, including free school meals, and the principle that children are allowed to choose their own educative path.

This compares to the so-called “Asian model” of rote learning, which has been criticised by Western educators for focusing on performing well in tests rather than on free thinking.


So which is the best system?

Ultimately the best educational system for your child is one which suits their individual learning needs, skills and abilities while giving them the best possible basis for lifelong learning.

Both Japan and Australia have traditionally ranked highly internationally for their education systems, despite their differences in teaching methods and cultures. And U.S. and British universities have traditionally rated highly in reviews of international universities conducted by Western reviewers.

Japanese students who study in Australia can benefit from a system that promotes quality education and protection for international students, with a range of courses, scholarships and pathways available, across all levels of education.

Talk to Hello Kids about the best option for your child and how you can ensure your child has the best possible international education for a bright future.

Australian Aboriginal history and culture: Guide for visitors

Australia’s Aboriginal peoples have lived on the continent for more than 50,000 years, making them potentially the oldest population of humans living outside Africa. For anyone planning to visit Australia, why not explore this ancient culture further?

First, some definitions. Aboriginal Australians are recognised as “a person of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent who identifies as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander and is accepted as such by the community in which he [or she] lives.”

Aboriginal Australians are split into two groups: those related to the inhabitants when Britain began colonising Australia in 1788 and the Torres Strait Islander peoples, residents of a group of islands off Queensland.

The 2016 census found there were nearly 800,000 Indigenous people living in Australia, with the largest populations living in the eastern states of New South Wales and Queensland. This compares to the estimated 750,000 to 1.25 million Aboriginals who were living in Australia when British settlers arrived.

A genetic study conducted in 2017 found that today’s Aboriginals are related to a common ancestor who was a member of a population that emerged in Australia around 50,000 years ago. One theory suggests that they emerged out of Africa around 70,000 years ago, migrating to Asia and then Northern Australia via boats.

At the time of European settlement, some 700 different Aboriginal languages and dialects were spoken, however this has since diminished to around 250. These live on through individual words and varieties of Aboriginal English.

Some examples of these languages spoken in Queensland can be found at the State Library of Queensland.


Cultural sites

The long history of Australia’s Indigenous people is reflected in the many significant archaeological sites found nationwide. Aboriginal people have a deep connection with the land, which is central to their spiritual identity.

In Queensland, more than 43,000 site locations have been identified. These include stone artefact scatters, the remains of campsites (known as middens) and other evidence of human occupation.

Significant culture sites include Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock), a massive sandstone monolith in the heart of the Northern Territory’s “red centre”. Uluru is sacred to Indigenous Australians and is thought to have started forming around 550 million years ago.

Other significant sites include Botany Bay in Sydney, with evidence of shell middens having been occupied many times during the past 3,000 years. In Western Australia, archaeological work at Jinmium has uncovered stone artefacts and rock art of up to 60,000 years old.

Aboriginal art, culture and spirituality is connected to the “Dreamtime,” which tells of the beginning of life. These stories have been handed down through the generations, teaching the importance of nurturing the land, its significance and spiritual connection.


Discovering Indigenous culture in Queensland