To enhance its global reputation and maintain competitiveness in the international education sector, the Australian government is making significant strides to attract an influx of international students while ensuring high-quality enrolments. The country’s minister for education, Jason Clare, stated this commitment to excellence during his address at the 2023 Australian International Education Conference (AIEC) on 11 October in Adelaide. International student numbers at universities are expected to grow by 3.7% each year since 2019, while enrolment for domestic students is projected to increase at a slower pace of 1.8%.
Half of the students in Australia’s top universities are expected to be international students in the future, aligning with the government’s efforts to encourage smaller and higher-quality overseas student cohorts.
Enrolment data at top institutions show the growth of about 600,000 international students in Australia, marking them as a majority in most university student population. Moreover, international students in these universities will comprise 46% load at the UNSW Sydney and 44% at the University of Queensland.
Australia’s rising popularity in international education
According to a survey conducted in March 2023, Australia saw a 2% increase in its attractiveness to international students. When prospective students were asked about their first-choice destination, Australia and Canada were tied at 25% each, followed by the UK (22%), the US (19%), New Zealand (3%) then Ireland (2%).
Australia reestablishes itself as one of the most preferred study destinations, sharing the top spot with Canada for the first time in two years. Another global survey conducted between 19 July and 21 August 2023 among 10,000 prospective, current and completed international students confirms this, with results showing Australia as the first-choice study abroad destination alongside Canada. In comparison to the previous survey conducted in March 2023, Australia’s reputation bolstered up as first-choice destination.
Furthermore, the survey also shows that Australia remains the top choice for students from Nepal, Vietnam and Indonesia. Current students studying in Australia reported a satisfaction rate of 7.5 out of 10, which is higher than the UK and Canada and just behind the US with an average of 7.8.
Enhancing quality enrolments
To ensure the quality of international student enrolments, the Australian government has implemented several initiatives. In July, they put an end to the unlimited working hours for international students, limiting them to 24 hours per week. This move aimed to reduce the attractiveness of a student visa as a means to work in the country.
Another important reform was the closure of the ‘concurrent certificate of enrolment’ loophole, which allowed international students to shift between courses within their first six months of study in the country. These measures are part of the government’s strategy to ensure that students come to Australia primarily for education purposes.
In addition to these reforms, Australia has increased the financial requirements for obtaining a student visa. As of October, international students need to demonstrate savings of AU$24,505 (US$15,421) to secure their visas.
Australia’s commitment to high-quality education
Australia’s growth in popularity can be attributed to several factors, including perceived ‘graduate employment opportunities’ and ‘post-study work policies.’ Furthermore, students continue to choose Australia for its ‘high-quality education’ and because it is considered a ‘safe country for international students,’ with these factors having an increase of 3.6% and 3%, respectively.
Australia’s commitment to offering high-quality education and implementing measures to ensure the integrity of international student enrolments has boosted its reputation as a top study destination.