Australia reached a record peak of 624,001 international students in 2017

March 20th, 2018 | | industry

Australia reached a record peak of 624,001 international students in 2017, a 13 per cent increase compared with the previous year, according to the full-year data released this week by the Department of Education and Training (DET).

The government said that the record number of students generated 799,371 course enrolments last year, 12.7 per cent more than in 2016 and another record for the country’s international education sector. In the DET data, which refers to international students on student visas, enrolments are higher than the total number of students as some may undertake two or more programmes.

There was double-digit growth in enrolments from all of Australia’s top five source markets, including the largest sender country China, which increased by 18.1 per cent to 231,191 enrolments and represented three in ten international students in the country. Second-placed India jumped by 12.6 per cent to 87,615 international enrolments, followed by Brazil (up 24.4 per cent), Nepal (56.2) and Malaysia (16.3). Other markets to record double-digit growth included Colombia (26.5 per cent), Sri Lanka (32) and Spain (19.9). The most significant decrease came from Saudi Arabia, which fell by 18.8 per cent to 6,551 students and slipped to the rank of 23rd largest source market.

There was growth last year in enrolments and commencements (new starts) for each of Australia’s international education sectors. Higher education represented 43.8 per cent of enrolments and registered growth of 14.7 per cent in international enrolments to 350,472. „They’re choosing to come to Australia in record numbers for a world-class higher education, the lifestyle, and our safe and welcoming communities,” said Belinda Robinson, Chief Executive of Universities Australia.

The VET sector rose above 200,000 enrolments for the first time in 2017 with a 16.7 per cent increase; secondary schools recorded 10.7 per cent growth; and the non-award (foundation) segment climbed by 13.5 per cent. Elicos (English language) – the third-largest sector overall – had the smallest year-on-year growth in enrolments (3.4 per cent) and commencements (2.9). The DET data refers to student visa-holding students, which represents only around two thirds of students in the Elicos sector, with the remainder on visitor or working holiday visas.

Brett Blacker, CEO of language school peak body English Australia, advised StudyTravel Magazine that in terms of student visa holders there was strong Elicos growth from top market China, while Brazil and Colombia posted increases of 23.2 and 12.7 per cent respectively to become the second and third largest source markets. He advised that growth was concentrated on the East Coast, with Queensland performing well (12.6 per cent increase), but that this was balanced by losses on the West Coast. Brett cautioned that the last five months of 2017 were actually a slowdown for Elicos. “The impact of those reduced commencements is likely to flow into the 2018 data for the higher education and VET sectors.”

Commenting on the long-term growth of the industry, Belinda said, “Australia’s international education offerings started out in the 1950s as essentially a small-scale international friendship programme. Now it’s grown to be our nation’s third-largest export sector and it is incredibly important to our diplomatic, political, trade and business connections around the world.” To mark the milestone industry data, Universities Australia released a series of videos featuring international students.

“Those people-to-people links are so important for Australia’s relationships in the region, and it gives Australian students the benefit of a truly global perspective in their education,” said Belinda. „These videos feature our international students talking about the things they’ve loved about studying in Australia, and why they’d recommend it to others.”

First posted by Matthew Knott on Study Travel Network