Agent Update 6 – Admissions-Southern Cross University

Your return on investment (ROI) - tips on how to rsspond to a question about this

One of the common questions you are asked to consider in a GTE interview is your return on investment. So, let’s start at the beginning – what does this even mean and what are we asking you to consider?
Obviously, your study in Australia is an investment in your future. It is going to cost you a lot of money – at least AUD$100,000 for a postgraduate degree and up to AUD $150,000 for an undergraduate degree. That’s an awful lot of money in anyone’s language, and when you consider exchange rates, etc., it becomes even more so.

As with any investment, a return is expected. If I invest $10,000 in the stock market, I expect to see a return on that $10,000 – I want to see my investment grow. The same applies to the money you (or your parents) are spending on your education in Australia. It’s not ‘dead’ money – itis an investment in your future and you expect to see a return. We want to see that you have thought about that investment and your returns.
So – what is involved in calculating your return on investment, and how can I answer this question well? Let’s consider the following points:

• How much do you expect to spend in total in Australia? This includes your total tuition fees and total living expenses for the duration of your course. So, if your tuition fees are AUD$32,160 per year and your course it three years in duration, your total tuition fees are AUD$96,480. Your living expenses are set by the Australian Government and are currently AUD$21,040 per year. So, again, on a 3 year degree, that would mean your total living expenses are AUD$63,120. In TOTAL, that makes your expenses AUD$159,600 for a 3 year degree. If you are doing a 2 year postgraduate degree, you would work out your total cost in the same way – i.e. TOTAL course fees for 2 years PLUS total living expenses for 2 years.
• Do you have a scholarship? If so, you should DEDUCT the amount of your scholarship for the FIRST YEAR from your total expenses. You should ONLY deduct the scholarship amount for the first year because only the first year is guaranteed. Subsequent years depend on your academic progress. So – again, if your total tuition fees for a 3 year degree are AUD$96,480 and you deduct your first year scholarship amount from that (let’s say you received an $8000 scholarship for your first year), your TOTAL fees MINUS your scholarship for the first year will be AUD$88,480. If you add the living expenses for 3 years of AUD$63,120, your TOTAL expenditure for 3 years will be AUD$151,600.

OK, so now that the calculation is clear, we need to look at your return on that investment – your ROI.
A return on investment is not ONLY about the financial gains you expect to receive, but other things as well. Your ROI should consider thigs like:

• The salary you realistically expect to receive AFTER you graduate from your course and return to your home country and start working. Your salary expectations should be based on a realistic understanding of the prevailing employment conditions in your home country and the true salaries available to international graduates in your field of study.
• You should consider how long your REALISTICALLY expect it to take you to earn back the TOTAL amount of money you spent getting your education in Australia. This calculation should be done as follows. Total amount spent in Australia divided by the expected salary you will have when you return (converted into Australian dollars) MINUS your living expenses in your home country. In other words, let’s say your TOTAL expenses in Australia were AUD$151,600 and you expect a salary equal to AUD$20,000 per year when you start work. You now need to consider how much of that salary you need to spend on living expenses in your home country – this includes things like accommodation, food, transport, entertainment, etc. Let’s say your living expenses are equivalent to AUD$8,000 per year. That means you can save AUD$12,000 from your salary. To work out the realistic time it will take you to earn that money back, you need to divide AUD$151,600 by AUD$12,000 (the amount of money you can save per year) to get the time it will take you to recoup your expenses. Let’s also factor in salary increases as you gain more experience – we don’t expect your salary to remain at that amount for years. Calculate what you expect your average salary will be after a number of years experience and factor that into your calculations. In most cases, you can deduct 2 – 3 years from the total time it will take to earn back your expenses. Using the above numbers, it would take you approximately 12 years to realise your return on investment. If we consider salary increase over that time, you could realistically say that it will take you 9 – 10 years to realise your investment based on the above numbers.

Note: The above numbers are an example only. You should look at your offer letter to undertake exactly what your fees are. If you do not yet have an offer, you can find the annual (yearly) tuition fees for your course on our website here.
It is very important to consider this REALISTICALLY and that you don’t have unrealistic expectations. Thinking about your return on investment in this way makes it clear to us that you have thought about your investment clearly and seriously and know what to expect.
Now you need to consider the non-financial returns on your investment to explain how a 9 – 10 year return is considered a good return on investment. You should consider things like:

• The importance of international exposure to your future. Does studying a degree overseas make you more competitive when you return home? If it does, this is an excellent example of a return on your investment because it makes you more desirable in the job market compared to someone who did not study abroad.
• The acquisition of superior language skills. Even though you may have a good understanding of English, being able to study in it and use it in a daily context improves your language skills and makes you more desirable in the global employment landscape. Graduates with strong English language skills are an asset to a company with a global focus.
• Your exposure to a multi-cultural society, Australia is truly multicultural with residents coming from almost every country on earth. This may be very different to what you are used to in your home country and this exposure to multiculturalism is certainly bound to give you the competitive edge in the employment market. This is another significant return on your investment.
• Independence. The independence you develop away from your family, friends and familiar culture makes you stronger and more resilient. This is another positive trait that employers look for.

These are just some examples of non-financial benefits that can be considered returns in your investment. These are things that cannot be bought – only learnt through your invaluable experience as an international student abroad. If you can show that you have an understanding of both the financial and non-financial ROIs, you will have no problem answering this question!
Note: This information is intended to provide you with ‘food for thought’ only. Please think about your responses and tell us how it relates specifically to YOU.