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“Remarkable recovery” in Australian ELICOS

The ELICOS sector had the highest volume increase in commencements and enrolments of any education sector in Australia in 2022, according to the 2022 ELICOS Market Analysis by English Australia.

56.9% of ELICOS commencements came from the top four source nations. Photo: iStock

ELICOS enrolments increased by 89.6%, while the sector gained 44,680 commencements, closely followed by the higher education sector, which had the second highest increase of 41,026 commencements.

Source: English Australia Market Analysis 2022

“The ELICOS sector has made a remarkable recovery in 2022, as captured in the Department of Education’s data, with annual growth in commencements of 155.4%,” said Brett Blacker, CEO, English Australia.

“This represented the highest volume increase in commencements of any education sector in Australia and is 63% back on 2019 figures.”

At the same time, ELICOS lodgements have exceeded pre-pandemic levels and are now at their highest ever, and over nine times higher than 2021, with 56,492 visas lodged in 2022.

According to Blacker, this reflects the sentiment that “international students are keener than ever” to study in Australia.

“It also proves that not only did our sector rebound after the pandemic, it has become even stronger,” said Blacker.

“This gives us great hopes for what 2023, the year that English Australia is celebrating our 40th anniversary, will bring to the international education scene in Australia.”

“Throughout 2022, the sector has seen an ever-increasing number of students applying for visas from its original top source countries, including Colombia and Brazil. The encouraging sign for diversity is the growth in the representation of students from a range of new and emerging markets post-pandemic, including Chile and Argentina,” said Blacker.

“We are pleased to see students from Japan, Spain, Turkey, and Korea return in large numbers.”

Commencements from Colombia increased by 286.5% with 9,414 additional students, meanwhile commencements from Brazil increased by 419.3% with an additional 7,270 students.

“The recovery from Colombia and Brazil has been encouraging but is still below the volume of students that commenced in 2019,” Blacker told The PIE.

Of the 157 nationalities with commencements for year-to-date December, 56.9% came from the top four source nations – Colombia, Thailand, China and Brazil. The top 10 nationalities contributed 77.5% of all commencements and the remaining 147 nations contributed 22.5%.

Source: English Australia Market Analysis 2022

Thailand has emerged as a key source market with commencements surpassing the previous peak of 9,195 back in 2014.

“We are even seeing an increase in students from China, despite their country’s battle with Covid-19 and its strict lockdowns.”

Commencements from China increased by 15.5% with 1,290 additional students versus year-to-date December 2021. Chinese students therefore made up 13.1% of commencements within ELICOS.

Justin Blake, CEO, BROWNS English Language School, told The PIE that the English language provider, with campuses in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, is “primed” to welcome back students from China.

The Chinese market, for us, I think is going to be a significant one

“The Chinese market, for us, I think is going to be a significant one,” said Blake.

While the data paints a positive picture for ELICOS, Blacker acknowledged there are still challenges being faced by education institutions as he highlighted the ongoing nation-wide accommodation shortage and teacher shortages, and the implications of the impending deadline of June 30 for a return to compliance with the ESOS National Code.

“But I think we have proven that the sector is able to tackle its challenges head-on and come out on top,” Blacker said.

“I’m happy to see that grant rates have stabilised at the end of 2022, after significant issues with processing delays and an increase in rejections throughout the year.”

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