The most recent data from Australia’s Department of Education shows that there are now more than 700,000 international students in Australia.
The new milestone follows several years of growth in the country’s international education sector. The 2019 figure is a 10% increase on the same time last year.
The infographic below provides a good overview:
The top 5 countries, and the percentage increase in students from each one, were:
- 28% of total student numbers.
- 4% increase in student numbers between August 2018 – August 2019.
- 15% of total student numbers.
- 33% increase in student numbers between August 2018 – August 2019.
- 7% of total student numbers.
- 32% increase in student numbers between August 2018 – August 2019.
- 4% of total student numbers.
- 3% increase in student numbers between August 2018 – August 2019.
- 3% of total student numbers.
- 7% increase in student numbers between August 2018 – August 2019.
The big increase in students from India and Nepal – over 30% in 12 months in both cases – is remarkable given that the base numbers were already significant.
Education agents are key players
Education agents are driving the growth in enrolments from India, Nepal and other markets. Recent Australian Government data shows that education agents were involved in 75% of overseas student enrolments in 2018.
If you are an education agent who wants to enroll more students in Australian institutions, click here to find out how AgentBee can help.
Is China a problem?
It is not all rainbows and unicorns for Australian educational institutions. The big issue, which is less immediately obvious, is that the rate of international students coming from China has slowed.
China has for 20 years been the world’s largest source of international students, with numbers increasing massively over that time. Australian educational institutions have benefited greatly. Students from China are by far the largest group of international students in Australia. However, the number of students leaving China each year to study overseas has plateaued since 2016. In Australia the strong growth in Chinese international student numbers seen in previous years slowed in 2018 and now appears to be leveling off.
That slowing is potentially a big problem for institutions that have come to rely heavily on Chinese international students as a source of enrolments and tuition fee income. Australian think tank The Centre for Independent Studies considered this issue in detail in its recent report The China Student Boom and the Risks It Poses to Australian Universities. It noted:
Australian universities’ China dependence is an extreme outlier among peer countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, and is high even when compared to New Zealand. Dependence on Chinese students in particular seems extraordinarily large at Melbourne
(though exact figures are not available), ANU, Sydney, UNSW, UTS, Adelaide, and perhaps UQ. These seven universities appear to be more dependent on fee-paying Chinese students than just about any other
universities in the English-speaking world.
“The China Student Boom” Report, CIS, p.7
The obvious point is that these universities could take a big hit if Chinese international student numbers start to decline. The Australian media has picked up on that risk and translated it into alarming headlines, for example:
- Unis risk catastrophic hit due to reliance on China
- Chinese students have already stopped coming to Australia
It will be interesting to see how this issue plays out over the next 12 months and beyond.