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ABS upgrades Australian int’l ed by more than $4bn

Australian international education has further surpassed its record financial year, after the Australian Bureau of Statistics valued the industry at $28.6 billion for 2016/17.

Value of Australia's international education sector now at 28.6bn - Melbourne is a popular city destinationA strengthening Australian dollar has seen Sydney overtake London in living costs for students. Photo: The PIE News

“What these figures also tell us is that [international education] is making an even bigger contribution to Australia’s broader economic health"

The latest figures see a more than 18% upgrade to the ABS’ July estimates, which predicted travel for education purposes would contribute $24.1 billion for the previous financial year, after it overhauled its valuation methodologies.

Among the broad suite of changes implemented, the ABS said the most major was moving from using a survey of international student spending on non-tuition fee items, such as accommodation and public transport, to using the International Visitor Survey which provided a more detailed overview.

“This is a testament to the reputation of Australian education across the world,” education and training minister Simon Birmingham said.

Birmingham told The PIE News that the latest figures further proved that international education was critical to Australia’s’ economic prosperity, and the government would continue to offer its support.

“International student numbers are up 15 per cent on last year and while the sector supports more than 130,000 jobs in Australia and delivers billions of dollars to our economy, what’s even more important are the global knowledge connections the sector fosters,” he added.

“Even more important are the global knowledge connections the sector fosters”

Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson said the revised numbers showed that international education’s economic impact was and had always been significantly larger than previously reported.

The ABS agreed, saying that previous years were similarly undervalued, but did not indicate an anticipated revaluation.

“We know that educating international students here in Australia makes a profound contribution to our country’s cultural strength and diversity, the cross-cultural skills and outlook of Australian-born students, and to our future diplomatic and bilateral relationships in the world,” Robinson told The PIE News.

“What these figures also tell us is that [international education] is making an even bigger contribution to Australia’s broader economic health than previously thought.”

Robinson added a warning that the Australian government’s proposed higher education funding reforms would be “economic self-harm” if implemented.

The reforms, which would see university funding reduced by $2.8bn over four years, argued Robinson, would jeopardise the high qualify of Australia’s education sector.

But Birmingham said the reforms would boost investment in the sector by 23% with the right policy settings in place “to ensure it is sustainable and continues to foster the excellence and innovation that underpins the outstanding global reputation of our universities and training providers.”

Australia’s major international education conference is currently underway in Hobart, Tasmania.

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