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International Education in Australia - now a $21 Billion industry

The International education export has reached a new height of inching close to $21 Billion a year. This confirms its status as the country's third largest earner.

The release of new figures via Australian Bureau of Statistics indicate a $20.96 Billion a year brought in by International Students.


  • 17% increase in Chinese enrolments. Interestingly, the growth in number of Chinese enrolments in US has been the lowest in a decade.

  • Higher Education sector attracts the highest share at $14 Billion, while VET sector is at $3 Billion, English Language sector at $1 Billion and Schools at $800 million

  • The International education sector supports 130,700 jobs

  • More than 320,000 students from 130 different countries currently in country.

  • Australia’s international education exports totalled $20.3bn last financial year, an 8 per cent rise compared with 2014-15.

  • The figure includes fees and onshore spending on goods and services such as food and accommodation, as well as royalties, consultancies and other related services.

  • Record growth suggests that the industry has responded quite well, in spite of a number of challenges including SSVF regime, high dollar rates etc.

Top Universities attracting International Students

The data reveals that the prestigious universities are continuing to significantly increase the number of International Student enrolments.

University- Number of Internationals- Percentage

Federation Uni- 5874- 42.5

Bond Uni -2328- 41.3

Melbourne Uni- 18,384- 31.2

ANU -6284- 21.8

Sydney Uni -15,753 -26.6

UNSW -14,367 -26.4

Monash- 15,719- 26.3

The national average for the number of International Students enrolled at all Universities is about 20%.


  • Is the growth sustainable?

  • Is the dramatic increase in number of enrolments at prestigious universities, largely due to the fact that this helps in covering the cost of multi million research efforts / subsidise the teaching of local students?

  • Is over-relying on specific markets compromising the overall International education experience of overseas students?

  • Is it still about education - or we are seen as an easy backdoor visa entry point, ultimately leading to migration?

(source - ABS, The Australian, Australian Financial Review)

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