Australia, Melbourne popular with international students
International student numbers have increased by 15 per cent in Australia in the first three months of this year compared to the same period in 2016, the latest figures show.
Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham, said the rising international student numbers come on top of growth of around 10.5 per cent since the coalition government came to power in 2013.
“In 2017 Australia hosted a record number of international students as more than 550,000 students from over 190 different nations flocked to our shores. The Government recognises the importance of our international education system,” Mr Birmingham said.
“Our international education system is critical in Australia’s economic prosperity as we continue to transition from an economy built on the success of the mining and construction boom to an economy based on knowledge, services and innovation,” he said.
The figures show the numbers of students starting their higher education in the first semester of 2017, as well as students commencing full year courses in vocational education and training and in schools.
Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Alex Hawke confirmed that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBO) had received more than 111,000 student visa applications in the first quarter of 2017, up from around 94,000 for the same period in 2016.
“This is a significant increase compared to the same time in the previous year and symbolises the efforts Australia has undertaken to attract international students,” Mr Hawke said.
The figures also show that all education sectors had experienced growth in international students during the first quarter of 2017.
English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students sector (ELICOS) increased by almost 38 per cent, the Higher Education sector by almost 23% and the VET sector by almost 13 per cent.
Mr Birmingham said the new data came as the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released education export income results showing a record $22.4 billion was added to the Australian economy in 2016 from international education.
The international student bonanza was shared across all states and territories, the ABS said.
International education is Australia’s third largest export after iron ore and coal and continues to play a vital role in the national economic landscape.
Melbourne has repeatedly been named Australia’s best city for international students and has twice been second best in the world ahead of Tokyo, Sydney and London.
Paris came top in the recent QS Best Student Cities Index for the fourth year in a row, which was compiled before the city’s latest terror attacks.
The ratings measure cities on their quality of universities, affordability, lifestyle, employment prospects and student community.
Seven Australian cities made it into the top 75 best student cities this year with Sydney coming fourth, Canberra (17), Brisbane (18), Adelaide (26), Perth (35) and Gold Coast (69).
Melbourne received a perfect score (100/100) for student mix which looks at city’s student population, levels of social inclusion, and tolerance.
The only factor Australian cities tended to stumble on was affordability, due to relatively high tuition fees and high living costs.
AMES Australia Senior Journalist