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Australia: 11% rise in new commencement predicted in 2023

Australia is set to see increased international enrolments in 2023, with expectations reckoning on overall growth of between 8% and 12%, according to marketing intelligence platform Studymove.

Even if China does not open its borders for students to leave in 2023, Australia's new international commencements are expected to rise next year. Photo: pexels

The "most likely" scenario will see 161,000 new international enrolments in 2023, Ramirez predicted

According to Studymove managing director, Keri Ramirez, the Australian sector saw “impressive recovery” in 2022, with a 32% rise in commencing students compared to 2021.

Following very low figures in 2021, the countries with the more impressive commencement results included India and Nepal (both +136%), and Vietnam (+47%).

“This positive trend in international commencements was more prominent for postgraduate programs,” Ramirez noted.

Studymove has now suggested different scenarios for the next year. The company said it expects the international student enrolments across Australia to hit 347,000 by the end of 2022.

“Part of the problem we had in 2022 is that only 58% of students from 2021 moved to 2022,” Ramirez said during a recent presentation.

“We are expecting to have 141,000 new students at the end of the year. For 2023, it’s all about how many students are going to continue. Historically, it’s about 67-68%, if we actually go back to those levels and have 65% continuing, I think we are going to be able to see for the first time in three years, growth in student enrolments here in Australia.”

If Australia sees the same number of new student enrolments in 2023 as it did this year, it will reach 366,550 international enrolments, Studymove estimated.

The “most likely” scenario will see 161,000 new international enrolments in 2023, an increase of 20,000 over 2022 figures, Ramirez predicted.

The synopsis indicates that enrolments will likely grow between 8% and 12% in 2023, “as market conditions have improved with the opening of international borders”, Ramirez told The PIE.

“Leading indicators such as the number of student visas lodged in the second half of this year suggest that student demand is now close to 2019 levels, and we should see another strong growth in international commencements in the next 12 months,” he explained.

“But to confirm these estimates in overall international enrolments, we need to wait and see if the number of continuing students returns to pre-pandemic levels.

“In 2022, the higher education sector was seriously affected, with a very low number of students continuing from 2021 to 2022 (only 59% compared to 67% in previous years) due to the effects of Covid.”

Previous analysis carried out by Studymove found inflation as an emerging challenge, with prices of tuition expected to increase at Australian institutions in 2023.

Yet the sector faces other challenges, with the “lagging effect” of Covid blamed for an overall 4% decrease in the total number of international student enrolments compared to 2021.

“The recovery of the international education sector is underway”

The total 2022 year will be the third consecutive year with a decline in international student enrolments, Studymove noted.

“The recovery of the international education sector is underway,” Ramirez however told The PIE.

“We understand that in 2023 institutions will be carefully looking a) at the increase in the cost of living and how that might impact international students, b) the pace of China’s reopening to international travel and c) how a strong labour market in Australia will influence the decision of international applicants.”

It is also likely education providers will experience recovery at different paces, he continued.

“It is important to remember that education providers have different resources and institutional goals, which will lead to a different engagement with international applicants,” Ramirez concluded.

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