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Data for Australia’s 2013: new enrolments up 9.3%

In positive news for Australia’s international education sector, year-end 2013 data reveals an almost double-digit rise in course commencements in 2013 compared with the previous year. This upturn was across all sectors except the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector, which remained stable with negligible -0.1% negative growth.

The turnaround has begun, based on latest AEI data

The Chinese share of new commencements (as opposed to enrolments) also represents 25% of that data set

The detailed data reveals that the English language teaching (Elicos) sector performed particularly well with a 21% upturn in new course commencements – and this reflects only those students reflected via the student visa programme (some English students study on tourist or Working Holiday visas).

“This is not only growth compared with 2012, but also compared with both 2011 and 2010,” said Sue Blundell, Chief Executive of English Australia (EA), who pointed out that the sector has now seen 16 months of consecutive growth.

China remains an important source country overall, representing close to 30% of all international students in the country (28.5%). The Chinese share of new commencements (as opposed to enrolments) also represents 25% of that data set.

In the vocational sector, India tops China as the most significant source country, and remains in second position overall in terms of source markets, followed by South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand.

“Brazil has retaken its place as the second most important source country after China [for Elicos visa issuance]”

However, in the Elicos sector, Brazilians were back. Commented Blundell, “A sudden turnaround from decline to growth in commencements (driven by the Science without Borders program) has seen Brazil retake its place at the end of the year as the second most important source country after China [for Elicos visa issuance].”

The higher education sector accounted for close to half of all international students in Australia on a student visa last year, with a 43.8% share. The VET sector was the second largest, with a 25% share of student visa holders.

The detailed data offers granular analysis of each sector and nationality intake, also by state (36% of all students are in NSW).

Outside of the top 5 countries, Italy and the Philippines presented the highest growth rates, year on year, at 37.1% and 27.3% respectively.

With a 21% annual growth in new starts, Blundell at EA explained that the focus now for the Elicos sector is on ensuring growth is experienced universally.

“Yes, numbers are up and we should rejoice, however it is clear that the growth is being experienced to varying degrees by different providers,” she told The PIE News.

“That’s why a lot of our current advocacy efforts are focused on areas that currently are serving to splinter our sector. We are working with the other sector peak bodies to develop a proposal for an alternative to SVP [streamlined visa processing] that would be accessible to all low risk providers, regardless of their sector.”

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