In an announcement, the organisation said that around 59,000 international students arrived in Australia in January 2023; data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics has also revealed that over 36,000 arrived in December, showing the number is rapidly climbing.
In January 2022, there were 28,030 international student arrivals to Australia across HE, VET, ELICOS and schools, while pre-Covid figures for the month in 2020 stood at 91,700.
The latest arrival, according to Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson, is boosting the economy as it continues to recover from Covid.
“These students make a significant contribution to our cultural fabric and economic prosperity, adding $40.3 billion to the economy pre-Covid.
“There is still a way to go in reaching pre-Covid numbers, but we are pleased by the progress to date,” she commented.
Jackson also noted that the numbers would not capture any increase in the numbers of Chinese students, as it was only in the last few weeks that China began “recognising only face-to-face study for students enrolled in overseas universities”.
“There is still a way to go in reaching pre-Covid numbers, but we are pleased by the progress”
On January 28, authorities in China announced that students who were supposed to be studying in foreign destinations “must return as soon as possible” – resulting in around 40,000 needing to return to Australia, putting crushing pressure on the country’s already stretched housing market.
Despite the figures on returning students, PerthNow reported that there has been no noticeable surge in visa applications from the Asian country since Beijing released the edict.
However, Jackson remains confident that as time goes on, “more students coming from our largest source market” will be a “welcome boost as we work back to the position of strength we held prior to the pandemic”.
Data from Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that the number of those going for independent ELICOS to the country had grown by over 170% year on year, with 3,800 coming in December 2022 compared to 290 in December 2021.
English Australia also recently released data in detail up to November 2022, showing that while China is struggling to bring in new students in higher education, ELICOS is different – commencements in China increased by 9.3% versus the same time in 2021.
Additionally, the ELICOS sector hit 143.1% growth on November 2021, supporting the claim of post-pandemic recovery in the international education sector.
Massive increases in students from Colombia and Brazil were also recorded, with another 8,506 and 6,634 additional students respectively, and Thailand’s share of students increased by 917%, with November commencement in 2022 being 9,566 compared to 2021’s 940 when borders were closed.
The data also said that almost half (44%) of those with commencements in year-to-date November came from Thailand, China and Colombia.
“These students make a significant contribution to our cultural fabric”
English Australia’s own data on higher education saw a 38% rise in commencements in November 22 compared to November 21.
However, ABS’s data on higher education arrivals showed that December 2022 numbers were slightly lower than 2021, with 20,750 compared to 21,850.
While this seemingly demonstrates that month-on-month, the market is still fluctuating, almost all other education markets saw an increase, including a 46% rise year-on-year rise in VET students.
Australia’s return of international students, while described as an “inundation”, has seen recent issues with visa processing and accommodation – including eye-watering rent hikes.