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Aus learning abroad sector recovering

The learning abroad sector in Australia is well on its way to recovery, with 90% of institutions expecting at least 75% of their cohorts to go abroad in 2024, a survey has revealed.

Study tours are slated to be the most popular learning abroad program in 2024. Photo: Pexels

Some nine out of 37% of institutions said they were planning to send over 1,000 students abroad in 2024

CISaustralia, which specialises in study, interning and volunteering abroad, revealed its sixth survey of learning abroad industry intelligence in October. 

Out of the 37 institutions that provided responses to the survey, nine said they were planning to send over 1,000 students abroad in 2024 – and three said they’d be sending over 4,000.

“The learning abroad sector in Australia continues to rebound successfully post-COVID,” Brad Dorahy, CEO at CISaustralia said.  

“[This is] despite head winds associated with staff layoffs, restructures and change management processes that have occurred in the last three to four years,” he noted. 

He mentioned that while the statistics regarding the institutions sending thousands of students abroad was encouraging, 67% of the universities will be at 50% of their pre-pandemic levels or better. 

The report also mentioned that study tours would be the most popular learning abroad program in 2024, with 86% of respondents citing it in their surveys, and 59% citing it as a “very important” part of their offering. 

The survey concluded the biggest factor limiting institutional learning abroad enrolments in 2023 was the “limited interest, engagement and availability of academic staff”. 

“The good news is that 62% of Australian universities are planning to employ more staff in the learning abroad area in the next 12 months – a strong recovery indicator,” Dorahy said. 

The most popular destination by continent for learning abroad programs continues to be Europe, with 97% listing it as a choice, while Asia follows behind at 81%.

The New Colombo Plan mobility program offers funding for some programs for learning abroad. The most popular destination for institutions using this funding was Japan, with 80% of universities saying it was “very popular”. 

However, the funding itself is under some scrutiny by the institutions surveyed, as 76% of them said the funding system had “not kept up with inflation” – with most institutions saying this also indicating funding needed to go up AUD$500-1000. 

“62% of Australian universities are planning to employ more staff”

Some three quarters of institutions’ students said the environment is of “little to no concern” in their choice of destination. 

The move back to non-virtual programs and fairs is also evident. In terms of fairs, 78% said they plan to hold on-campus learning abroad fairs in the first half of 2024, compared to 2023 data, and 92% said they wouldn’t be holding virtual fairs in 2024.

Some 79% of universities responding to the survey said they’d seen a reduction of more than 10% in interest for virtual programs -perhaps indicating the pandemic era is being left behind.

Despite this, 54% of respondents said they would still be offering virtual mobility programs in the coming year.

In further encouraging data, only 3% said they wouldn’t be promoting learning abroad programs across the board for the coming year – halving the amount who said the same thing in 2022.

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