The new International Students Strategy for Australia released by the Federal Government includes much sensible sentiment.

But unfortunately it fails to address the crucial challenge - to rebrand Australia as a premium education destination, writes UNSW Vice-Chancellor, Professor Fred Hilmer in The Australian.

"Only recently British branding expert Simon Anholt labelled Australia the world's 'dumb blonde'. It was telling that he chose a conference on international education in Sydney to deliver his 'attractive but shallow' blow to the national ego.

"Few industries are more vulnerable to such perceptions than the $18 billion education export sector, especially as the strengthening dollar brings the cost of an Australian tertiary qualification to within par of our main competitors, the US and Britain," Professor Hilmer said.

"But while most exporters are realistically lamenting the dollar's rise, a robust, resilient Australian economy represents an opportunity the education sector must grab. Education exports must be taken as seriously as tourism, with a government-backed global campaign to match. And we need to do so decisively now or face a 20 per cent slump in commencing enrolments by as early as next year and a $2 billion hole in returns."

Read the full opinion piece here.

Media contact: Judy Brookman, UNSW Media, 02 9385 3249