December 5, 2023

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that international students will contribute $25.5 billion in 2022, the same level as in 2016. Despite not returning to the record $40 billion of 2019, the economic contribution will increase from 2021, when international students brought in $22 billion, it increased.

Although Australia has faced significant disruption from Covid-19 since 2020, the economic contribution has grown from $16.7 billion in the decade from 2012 to $25.5 billion last year.

If the economic contribution continues to grow by 16% year-on-year – as seen in 2022 – the total will reach $39.8 billion by 2025.

Australian universities have calculated that, along with the $3.5 billion international students enrolled in online courses from their home countries, international students will add $29 billion to the economy in 2022.

“The strong uptake of international education is an economic winner for Australia,” Universities Australia chief executive Catriona Jackson said.

“Covid-19 has halved the value of education as an export, but we are well on our way back to reaching and hopefully surpassing the $40 billion mark we saw in 2019.”

Australian said that education export earnings are expected to continue to grow strongly, especially after China’s announcement of online studies in January, which requires Chinese students to return to university this year.

Industry stakeholders have also suggested that extended post-study work visas for courses in skills shortage areas will increase the attractiveness of Australian education opportunities.

ABS analysts pointed to international students, along with the country’s mining sector, helping boost Australia’s national current account surplus to $14.1 billion for 2020.

“Education is our biggest service export and the biggest product we don’t get out of the country,” Jackson recalled.

“International education not only boosts the economy, it also helps Australia make important friends.

“Almost 80,000 students came to Australia in the last month alone”

“Almost 80,000 students have come to Australia in the last month alone. We have some work to do, but the progress so far is good for universities, Australia and the economy in general.

“Like many parts of our economy, international education has faced a challenging few years – travel restrictions and border closures have thrown students and universities into a period of real uncertainty,” Jackson added.

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare is traveling to India this week with 11 Australian university vice-chancellors in a bid to “promote our institutional partnerships and strengthen collaboration”.

Clare will sign an agreement on mutual recognition of qualifications with her Indian counterpart, Shri Dharmendra Pradhan, who visited Australia last year.

The delegation will also be joined by University of Wollongong Vice-Chancellor and President Patricia Davidson.

In 2022, Wollongong signed an agreement to establish a teaching, research and industrial engagement site at GIFT City in Gujarat.

“The visit provides an important opportunity for Australian universities to showcase the new partnerships and plans they can deliver in India, including opportunities for joint degrees and campuses,” Clare added.

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