9% Growth in International Student Numbers

Date —

11 April 2019

Industry Sector/s —
Higher Education, Vocational Education & Training

Summary —

The growth of Australian international education exports has continued with 554,188 international students studying in Australia, representing growth of 9%.  The higher education (9% growth) and the vocational education and training (16% growth) underpinned the change with other sectors experiencing minimal growth or declines.


Key Issues —

As the Independent Tertiary Education Council Australia (ITECA) works with the Australian Government on developing new strategies to support quality providers of international education, the release of new data from the Department of Education and Training highlights the importance of this work.

The report shows that in February 2019 there were 554,188 international students in Australia an increase of 9% compared to the previous twelve months.  The Department’s report shows the state of international student numbers:

International Markets Growth

China continued to be the primary source of overseas students in Australia with growth of 4% in the twelve months to February 2019.  In the same period student numbers from India, the second largest market, grew by 33%.  The third largest market is Nepal with student numbers growing by 49% and ITECA is working with the Australian Government to better understand the factors behind this growth with a focus on ensuring that quality outcomes are delivered.  Malaysia was the fourth largest market that saw a decline of 8% and the fifth largest market is Vietnam that saw a 1% decline in student numbers.

Collectively China (30% of all students), India (14% of all students), Nepal (7% of all students), Malaysia (4% of all students) and Vietnam (4% of all students) account for 58% of international students in Australia.

Education Sector Performance

The strongest growth was in vocational education and training which experience 16% growth (to 151,841) in international student enrolments in the twelve months to February 2019.  It is important to note that around 90% of these students are enrolled with independent providers, with the public TAFE system accounting the remaining 10%.

The higher education sector saw 9% growth (to 324,261) over the past twelve months and the English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) sector saw international student enrolments grow by 1% (to 60,444).  International enrolments the school sector fell 2% (to 20,526) and non-award sector saw international student enrolments fall by 6% (to 25,811).

In reviewing these numbers it’s important to appreciate that the number of enrolments doesn’t correlate directly with student numbers as a student may enrol in more than once course in one calendar year.

The independent tertiary education system includes providers in the higher education, vocational education and skills sectors that play a significant role in the expanding international education sector.

ITECA works with its members to ensure that Australia’s international student sector is renown globally for its ability to provide students with the quality outcomes they are looking for.  This seeks the independent tertiary education sector, though ITECA, working collaboratively with government to ensure that policy settings allow eligible students to benefit from the offerings of quality providers.

Member Engagement:

ITECA’s ability to play a lead role in matters associated with this issue rests on the advice and guidance of individuals serving on the ITECA International Education Reference Committee.

Further Information:

For more information on this issue please send an email to international.education@iteca.edu.au or telephone 1300 421 017.  Stay up to date via Twitter @ITECAust or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/ITECAust.

Disclaimer & Copyright:


The material published on this website page is intended for general information only and is not legal advice or other professional advice.  It may not be reproduced without ITECA’s prior written consent.

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