New Department of Education figures confirmed there were now 509,610 international students in Australia at universities, private colleges, English language courses and schools, which was 12 per cent more than the same time last year.
Due to an international student’s eligibility to enrol in more than one course in a calendar year, total enrolments by February 2018 were 542,054.
Research into the reason Australian higher education has become so attractive to the rest of the world suggested international students cannot keep away from quality courses that are delivered in a flexible structure while being affordable and financially manageable.
Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said the record number of international students choosing to study in Australia is important for our future ties to the world — as well as to our national income.
“Australia has become a powerhouse in international education and quality has been the foundation of that success,” Ms Robinson said.
“We have almost doubled enrolments over the past decade and built international education into Australia’s third largest export sector. This supports Australian communities, jobs, regional economies, and our international relationships and standing,” she said.
International student enrolments in higher education institutions rose by 16 per cent in 2018 — above the overall increase across the education sector of 13 per cent.
The data also highlights the diversity of countries with growing numbers of enrolments — including Nepal (54 per cent), Colombia (29 per cent), Brazil (27 per cent), India (17 per cent) and China (16 per cent).
The latest figures follow trade data released earlier this month which show that international education now contributes $32 billion a year to the Australian economy.
“These half a million international students will become tomorrow’s global leaders — returning home as informal ambassadors for Australia and extending our nation’s worldwide networks in business, diplomacy and politics,” Ms Robinson said.
“Maintaining the quality of our higher education system and continuing to invest in that quality will be important to continue this strong record of growth.”