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International students add $22.4bn to Australia’s bottom line

2 June 20170 comments

Australia is seeing a boom in international education with student numbers rising 15 per cent in the first three months of this year compared with 2016.

And Melbourne is the epicentre of the growth with the lion’s share of the extra students.

Numbers of international students rose to 480,092 in the March quarter of 2017 with the largest numbers coming from China, India and Malaysia, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

More than half of Australia’s international students are from just five countries; China, India, Malaysia, Vietnam and Nepal.

The number of enrollments of international students surged to 520,737 this quarter with the higher number due to the fact international students can enroll in more than one course in a calendar year.

The rising international student numbers come on top of sector growth of around 10.5 per cent over the past four year.

Successive federal governments have been committed to supporting the sustainable growth of the international education sector. Practical measures to protect the sector were outlined in the National Strategy for International Education 2025.

“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,” said federal education minister Simon Birmingham.

“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.

He said that geopolitical factors created new possibilities for Australia to maximise its share of the growing number of students who are travel overseas to study.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection 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.

All education sectors experienced growth in international students during the first quarter of 2017 – the English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students sector (ELICOS) grew by almost 38 per cent, the Higher Education sector by almost 23 per cent and the VET sector by almost 13 per cent, the ABS data showed.

It showed a record $22.4 billion was added to the Australian economy in 2016 from international education, with positive contributions shared across all states and territories.

“International education is our third largest export after iron ore and coal and continues to play a vital role in our national economic and social prosperity,” Minister Birmingham said.


Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist