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Australia’s international student intake spikes

30 April 20181 comment

More than half-a-million international students are studying in Australia this year, according to new government figures.

It is the first time the 500,000 benchmark has been reached this early in a calendar year, and is a 12 per cent increase on the same time last year.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said Australia has taken in some 510,000 international students from over 190 countries this year.

“We’re on track to continue our record-breaking run of growth in international education,” he said.

“We are thankful that so many international students choose to enhance their knowledge and skills in Australia, providing a richer and more diverse experience for both Australian students and other international students.”

The half-million mark represents a 54 per cent increase in the number of international students in Australia over the last five years.

The number accounts for students enrolled in higher education, vocational education and training (VET), Schools, English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) and non-award sectors.

The number of Nepalese students jumped 54 per cent, while there was a 29 per cent increase in students from Colombia.

The number of Brazilian students bound for Tasmania more than tripled, and Western Australia saw a one-third jump in its number of Bhutanese student arrivals.

China makes up the largest proportion of students from a single country at 31 per cent, followed by India, Nepal and Malaysia at 12, five and four per cent respectively.

Mr Birmingham said international students were extremely valuable to Australia.

“International education is vital to the people-to-people links and knowledge sharing between Australia and the rest of the world,” he said.

“Recent data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics has shown the value of international education jumped 22 per cent from 2016 to $32.2 billion last year.”

The report comes a week after One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson said she wanted to end the practice of giving international students work rights.

Senator Hanson said the work rights of international students were making it difficult for Australian citizens to get jobs.

“These people are supposed to be self-supporting when they come into Australia. But they are given the opportunity to do twenty hours work a week and they can actually have unlimited work when they’re not studying,” she said.

“That is wrong because that is impacting on the other Australians getting jobs,” Senator Hanson said

President of the Council of International Students Australia Bijay Sapkota disputed Senator Hanson assertion.

“A lot of industries in Australia rely on international students, tourism for one. Every year, parents of many students visit Australia. The hospitality industry is also heavily reliant on students,” Mr Sapkota said.

“I see a significant lack of common sense on the part of Ms Hanson while projecting international students as some sort of burden,” he said.

International student Joy Hsien said being able to work part-time in Australia meant she could afford to come here to study.

“If I couldn’t work, I would not come here to study and I would not be ab le to pay the fees to my university, said the communications and marketing student from China.





Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist