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Australia: 31% decline in student starts to March

Latest government figures in Australia have revealed the overall declines in international enrolments in the country during the coronavirus pandemic.

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New South Wales and Victoria saw 34,189 and 39,374 fewer international higher education student enrolments in 2021, respectively

Cumulative government figures in the year to March 2021 show that international student commencements fell by 31%, while the number of enrolments had fallen by 17%.

Across sectors, there were some 55,849 fewer commencements in 2021, with ELICOS suffering most – commencements fell from 15,263 in 2020 to 3,215 in the latest figures. Enrolments in the ELICOS market also dropped from 105,603 last year to 22,775 in 2021.

Overall Australia saw 207,773 fewer international enrolments this year across all sectors.

Other points-in-time statistics revealed that between July 2020 to March 2021, the total number of enrolled international students in Australia had dropped 21%, while the percentage of enrolled students overseas had leaped 82%.

Preliminary data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics additionally shows that tuition fees from students outside Australia totalled $3.3 billion in 2020.

In higher education, the top two source countries for international students dropped with 20% fewer enrolments coming from China. In India, this extended to some 34% fewer, declining from 79,257 last year to 52,080 in 2021.

Top sending countries for higher education saw declines ranging from -15% fewer students from Canada, up to -26% from Nepal, -29% from Pakistan and Malaysia, along with the big fall from India.


Numbers show that New South Wales and Victoria – the two biggest destinations for international higher education students – saw 34,189 and 39,374 fewer enrolments in 2021, respectively.

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