The number of international students studying at Southern Cross University’s three campuses this year has hit a record high of more than 650 students.

Viv Carter, director of the University’s International Office, said the international students were estimated to contribute around $20 million a year in direct expenditure to the Mid North and North Coast regions.

“The number of international students studying across the three Southern Cross University campuses at Lismore, Coffs Harbour and Tweed Gold Coast increased again this year by almost 13% from last year to a record 654 students,” Mr Carter said.

The students come from 57 countries around the world, with the largest group of students coming from countries including China, the United States, Canada and India.

Mr Carter said the increase in enrolments was due in part to articulation pathways that had been developed with Chinese universities and the increasing demand from Canadian students for teacher training places.

“We are very pleased with this growth, which has come about at time when the national higher education sector is experiencing slow growth in demand from international students. In the 12 months to the end of April the sector reported an increase of only 2.8%,” Mr Carter said.

“We now have more than 1150 international students studying on our campuses, and at collaborating institutions in Sydney and Perth.

“This represents a significant export benchmark for the region.

“It is a reflection of our standing in the global education community.”

PICTURE: Jessie Hughes and Fathmath Musthafe enjoy some entertainment at the Lismore campus.