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Australia: ELICOS enrolments stabilising

Australia’s English language sector could be on the road to recovery after three years of decline. According to the latest Australian Education International statistics, ELICOS enrolments in the first 10 months of 2012 were down just 2% compared with the same period of 2011.

Sydney has seen English language enrolments decline since 2009, but this may be about to change

After three years of decline, commencements grew by 2% while enrolments fell by just 2%

Commencements however grew by 2% – a far cry from the 7% drop in higher education and schools, and 12% in VET.

“As the ‘pipeline sector’ we may be the first to see the beginning of a recovery”

“As the ‘pipeline sector’ we were the first to see decline and now may be the first to see the beginning of a recovery,” said Sue Blundell, CEO of English Australia.

However, she views the results cautiously. “Whilst positive when compared to recent trends, I wouldn’t get too excited.”

In other good signs, the number of ELICOS students on working holidays who study English on the side is believed to be rising, according to providers.

This segment is not included in the AEI figures. Blundell said that students applying for multi-sector visas also meant the growth was likely to be higher.

“A large proportion of ELICOS students are packaged with higher education or postgraduate research visas, so they are not classified as independent ELICOS visas,” she said.

ELICOS is often referred to as the “canary in the coal mine” of Australian international education. Some say its recovery bodes well for the sector at large, which has seen enrolments slide since 2009 due to a high dollar and growing foreign competition.

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