Australia’s long-time immigration policy of offering study and work options to international students is paying good dividends. The country is witnessing one of the highest growths in international education sector during recent years.
With countries like Brazil experiencing high unemployment along with a recession in 2016, many young people from there are opting to study abroad. They have even shown specific preferences when it comes to the choice of cities and regions in Australia.
Due to favorable conditions like good weather and employment opportunities, international students prefer states like New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria. However, other states like Tasmania and the ACT are also following suit, when it comes to student enrolments.
The number of Brazilian students grew by 24.5 percent in NSW during 2016. Along with Brazil, student arrivals from Nepal saw an increase of 19.7 percent in 2016. Students from China make up nearly one-third of all students in the state. In total, there were nearly 270,000 international students across NSW in 2016. Education remains the state’s biggest earning, worth AUD 7.2 billion in 2015-2016.
Colleges and universities around the country have also grown their revenue substantially compared to previous years. The university of Melbourne earned AUD 526 million in international fee revenue in 2015, while the University of Sydney recorded AUD 480 million in the same year.
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According to a report by Deloitte Access Economics and EduWorld, Australia’s onshore international education sector will grow to 940,000 by 2025. The international education sector’s contribution to export earnings is expected to reach AUD 33 billion by that year. The top eight markets are expected to be China, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Nepal, Malaysia, Brazil, and South Korea.
While most international students opt for higher education courses, vocational education and training courses are gaining popularity as well. About 106,000 or nearly 40 percent of international students are studying higher education courses, growing the sector by 15.3 percent in 2016. Vocational education and training courses account for about 80,000 students, with enrollments growing by 10.7 percent in the same year.
The non-award sector, which provides short English language courses before students enroll in higher education or vocational training, has seen one of the highest growths recently. Enrollments have grown by 25.8 percent to 17,550, with students mainly coming from countries like Brazil, Malaysia, and South Korea. Recently, Australia also announced scholarships for international students from South and West Asia Students.
The number of international students in Australia increasing exponentially. Now, the challenge for the government is to refine this opportunity and make it sustainable. The areas that require more insight are size and diversification, including supply-side conditions to enable the sector to pursue these opportunities.
Future growth prospects are evident, but sustainability and stability of the sector will depend on good long-term planning. Government policies that change too frequently create disruptions in the economy. This causes international students to look for more stable regions and countries. The Australian Government should also work towards policies that can create an amicable environment for the students to study and work.