Australian Universities dependence on International Students

Feb 15, 2021
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International Students Australian Uni

International education is the third-largest export industry of Australia after iron and coal. However, it begs the question if the Australian university sector is dependent on International Students. Recognised for its academic excellence, Australia ranks second on the top abroad education destination worldwide following the United States. Seven Australian universities rank among the top 100 universities in the world. A single university earns hundreds of millions of dollars in fees from international students. Every year, Australia adds up to 40 billion in revenue out of international students. This raises the question of whether Australian Universities are more dependent on International Students. The answer to this question is a clear yes which the data can substantiate. 

International Student Enrolments

As of April 2020, 694,118 international enrollments have been registered in various sectors from January to April 2020 which is 3% more than that in April 2019.  Among those, 26% come from China, 17% from India, 8% from Nepal, 4% from Vietnam, and 3% from Brazil. It’s not surprising that China leads the chart as the largest source of outbound international higher education students in Australia.

Nearly 11% of growth is seen in the numbers of international students for 2019. However, there has been a rise in deferments by 40,725 than last year due to the recent global pandemic.

Revenue by Source

Australian universities have relied on international students as a source of income for a long time. Increasing dependence on the international enrollments in Australian universities is adding extra pressure which is also revealed by the following figures─ in 2004, international students added up less than 15% revenue to Australian universities, whereas 13 years later the ratio has increased to nearly 24%.

10 out of 11 Australia’s top universities have an average of 30% of their income from international students.

Topping the list is The University of Sydney, generating more than half a billion dollars in 2017 from Chinese students. This is around 23% of their total revenue.

More than just the fees, international students contribute to many other sectors in the Australian economy. While living and travelling in Australia, they generate jobs and income for more than 240,000 people and business sectors.

Risk Posing to Australian Economy

In a report published for The Centre for Independent Studies, the report author Salvatore Babones, also the associate professor of the University of Sydney, stated that relying on international students may someday mean burden for Australia’s taxpayers. Therefore, in case of a sudden downfall of international student enrollments, it will hit the Australian universities hard to meet the financial and moral obligations of the creditors and employees.