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Australia’s international ed exports reach AUS$18bn

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that international education exports have reached AUS$18.1bn (US$13.3bn), a 14.2% increase on AUS$15.9bn (US$11.7bn) in 2013-2014. The sector remains Australia’s fourth largest export after iron ore, coal, and natural gas.

Winners of the 2014 Australia Awards. Higher education enrolments accounted for 47.7% of the total sector. Photo: DFAT.

The sector generates a significant amount of jobs for the country– around 130,000

Monthly YTD figures from June show there were 464,787 international students enrolled in Australia, up 10.4% on June 2014’s figures. Higher education continues to drive growth but increases in both the VET and ELICOS sectors have contributed to overall gains.

The figures show Australia’s exports continue to climb after reporting 3.8% growth last year, the first upswing for the sector since it peaked at AUS$16.1bn in 2010 before crashing.

“These figures underline the importance of our work to develop a national strategy for international education”

Minister for Education and Training Christopher Pyne said on Friday he was “delighted with these figures” and that they are a “real boost to the Australian economy.”

He added that the sector generates a significant number of jobs for the country– around 130,000.

“They also underline the importance of our work to develop a national strategy for international education,” he said. “I’m looking forward to further robust discussions on the strategy with education and business experts, students, and community representatives at the Roundtable on International Education at Parliament House next week.”

In April, Pyne released a draft international education strategy that put funding research, providing post-study work rights and improving accommodation at the heart of the government’s efforts.  It promised two roundtable sessions and consultations with sector stakeholders throughout 2015.

YTD Higher education enrolments grew 8.8% last month and accounted for 47.7% of the total sector. VET meanwhile increased 15% on June of last year making up 24.8% of the sector while ELICOS enrolments accounted for 18.9% of the sector, up 7.2%.

June commencements across all sectors increased beyond the previous decade’s 6.5% average, up 7.2%. This equates to 198,347 commencements in all higher education VET and ELICOS sectors.

Students from China, India, Veitnam, Thailand and Korea accounted for 50% of total enrolments in June.

The figures show Australia in third place globally in terms of international education’s economic contributions

Representatives body Universities Australia said the figures represent the hard work of universities in delivering an educational experience of uncompromising quality.

Speaking about the draft international education strategy, Deputy Chief Executive of Universities Australia, Anne-Marie Lansdown said, “In finalising this vitally important strategy, we must ensure that the regulatory and policy settings supporting international education are sufficiently robust to continue delivering quality but not so onerous as to prevent innovation.

“It will be important to get the balance right so that the excellent education and research reputation currently enjoyed by Australian universities is supported well into the future.”

The figures show Australia in third place globally in terms of international education’s economic contributions. Last year, NAFSA reported international students contributed US$26.8bn to the US economy while the UK tallies education exports to be £18bn (US$28bn) this year with aims to increase the amount to £30bn in five years.

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