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ELICOS student numbers up 138% in 2022

Australia’s ELICOS sector ended 2022 at 56% of pre-pandemic student numbers 2019, with the country’s peak body for the English language sector indicating a continued “remarkable recovery”.

ELICOS providers across NSW hosted some 35,664 students for a total of 586,642 weeks in 2022. Photo: pexels

In total, the ELICOS sector generated $1.4 billion for the Australian economy last year

Figures included in the 2022 National ELICOS Market report show that total student numbers rose by 138% year-on-year last year, hitting 94,614.

Overall student weeks also increased on 2021, up by 220% to over 1,580,000. For the three years before the pandemic, student week numbers had hovered at around 2,335,000 annually.

Previous Department of Education data had indicated that English Language was the quickest growing of international education sectors in 2022. Government statistics recorded 73,429 students in 2022, up from 28,749 the previous year.

In total, the ELICOS sector generated $1.4 billion for the Australian economy last year. The ELICOS report also gives a fuller picture of the recovery.

Stakeholders, including from Bonard which was commissioned by English Australia again for this year’s report, have suggested that other English language destinations were likely to see “milder declines” in student numbers as they saw borders open ahead of Australia. New Zealand also saw borders close for a longer period of time than competitor destinations as a result of its government’s Covid-19 policy.

Despite some of Australia’s states lifting travel restrictions earlier than others (New South Wales introduced a pilot in 2021 and Western Australia opening a pathway before other states in early 2022), the speed of recovery appears to be quite even across the country. Australia fully opened its borders in February 2022.

The 35,664 students in New South Wales over the past year studied a total of 586,642 student weeks, making it the state with the most ELICOS enrolments.

Victoria had the second most, with 25,477 students, followed by Queensland, which had the largest proportional growth of 224%, to 23,645 students.

To compare with other states, Western Australia’s total 6,411 students was equivalent to +93% year-on-year growth, and South Australia’s 3,417 students was an increase of 65%.

Photo: English Australia


Asia-Pacific remains the largest source of ELICOS students, making up 28% of enrolments, followed by the Americas, accounting for 15%.

The total 8,548 students enrolling from Europe was equivalent to a 294% year-on-year rise last year, however, the 28,756 students from the Americas was a rise of 248% and the 3,042 students Middle East & North Africa, +208%.

Regarding specific countries, Colombia rose from 4,156 students in 2021 to 13,032 in 2022 as it passed China as largest source country.

China was second with 10,956 students, marginally ahead of Thailand, which increased from 1,324 students in 2021 to 10,945 last year. Thereafter followed Japan with 10,901 students and Brazil with 9,656.

Photo: English Australia

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