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Australia: 2010 international education figures yield mixed results

Australian Education International (AEI), the international arm of the Australian government’s Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR), has recently released its figures on the country’s international education sector for the period April 2010 - April 2011. On the positive side, the rate of international enrolments continued to grow, though at a slower rate than the previous year. Notably, Australia’s higher education sector experienced a 2.7% increase (i.e. from 57 390 students in April 2010 to 58 471 in April 2011) in international student enrolment.

Nonetheless, the troubling news of the 2010 figures lies mainly in the decline in international enrolments rates of students among VET, English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS), schools and other education providers. In particular, the ELICOS sector, which often serves as a stepping stone for international students to the Australian higher education sector, experienced a 21% decrease in enrolment during the aforementioned period.

Despite this, international education still remains Australia’s largest service export industry, contributing AUD 18.3 million (around EUR 13.4 million) to the overall economy in 2010. What’s more, the higher education sector accounts for almost 57% of the total revenue from international education services. The sending countries of China, India and South Korea remained in the top three spots for all education sectors, unchanged from 2009. However, Australia experienced a sizeable drop (of 15%) in export income from education-related services from India during the same time frame.

Considering Australia’s economic reliance on international educational services and the 9.3% decline in overall international student enrolment, it will be interesting to see if the increased tightening of visa regulations will enter the current discourse.

Australian Education International - Export Income to Australia from Education Services in 2010

Australian Education International – Monthly Summary of International Student Enrolment Data– Australia – YTD April 2011