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International Student Data

Annual Summary

AEI’s International Student Data for the 2012 calendar year show there were 515,853 enrolments by full-fee paying international students in Australia on a student visa. This is 38,506 fewer enrolments than in 2011, and represents a decline of 6.9 per cent.  This compares with an average annual growth rate of 6.5 per cent for enrolments since 2002.

There were 279,335 commencements recorded in 2012, a decrease of 16,593 commencements on 2011 figures, representing a 5.6 per cent decline. This compares with an average annual growth rate of 5.7 per cent for commencements since 2002.

Nationality

Enrolments

Nine of the top 10 nationalities by volume of enrolments in 2012 recorded declines on 2011 figures. The largest declines by volume of enrolments were from India (down 17,679 enrolments on 2011), China (down 9,956) and Nepal (down 3,505).

The top 10 nationalities collectively accounted for 68.7 per cent of all enrolments, but have declined by 9.1 per cent.

International student enrolments by nationality (top 10 markets), 2012
Nationality Enrolments % of Total Growth on 2011
China 149,758 29.0% -6.2%
India 54,396 10.5% -24.5%
Republic of Korea 27,719 5.4% -6.7%
Vietnam 22,551 4.4% -4.4%
Malaysia 21,587 4.2% -5.2%
Thailand 20,240 3.9% -6.3%
Indonesia 17,514 3.4% -1.8%
Brazil 15,092 2.9% -1.1%
Nepal 14,074 2.7% -19.9%
Pakistan 11,298 2.2% 18.1%
Other nationalities 161,624 31.3% -1.8%
Total 515,853 100.0% -6.9%

There were six source countries outside the top 10 recording growth of more than 500 enrolments: Colombia (up 13.8%), the Philippines (up 20.6%), Italy (up 35.9%), Spain (up 47.5%), Greece (up 305.0%) and Kuwait (up 60.2%).

Conversely, seven source countries outside the top 10 with more than 5,000 enrolments in 2012 recorded declines on 2011 figures: Saudi Arabia (down 4.9%), the USA (down 7.5%), Singapore (down 3.3%), Taiwan (down 4.7%), Bangladesh (down 3.7%), Sri Lanka (down 13.6%) and the UK (down 4.0%).

International students from Asia accounted for 76.0 per cent of enrolments, a small decline from the 77.3 per cent in 2011.  Overall, there was an 8.5 per cent decline in enrolments from the region in the same period.  In comparison, enrolments from all other regions combined declined by 1.6 per cent.

Commencements

There were 16,593 fewer commencements in 2012 than in 2011. Nine of the top 10 nationalities by volume of commencements recorded decreases in the reporting period. The top 10 markets accounted for 66.3 per cent of all commencements in 2012 and declined by 7.3 per cent on the previous year.

International student commencements by nationality (top 10 markets), 2012
Nationality Commencements % of Total Growth on 2011
China 74,050 26.5% -6.9%
India 26,685 9.6% -21.7%
Republic of Korea 16,342 5.9% -2.6%
Thailand 12,537 4.5% -4.5%
Vietnam 11,790 4.2% -1.4%
Brazil 11,207 4.0% -0.9%
Malaysia 8,938 3.2% -5.5%
Indonesia 8,741 3.1% -3.7%
United States of America 7,526 2.7% -9.2%
Colombia 7,477 2.7% 19.0%
Other nationalities 94,042 33.7% -2.0%
Total 279,335 100.0% -5.6%

Nine source countries with more than 1,000 commencements and outside of the top 10 recorded more commencements in 2012 than in 2011: Japan (up 4.1%), Pakistan (up 17.0%), the Philippines (up 23.8%), Taiwan (up 0.8%), Italy (up 41.5%), Spain (up 51.4%), Czech Republic (up 1.1%), Iran (up 4.0%) and Kuwait (up 59.7%). Of the markets outside the top 10 which recorded declines, the largest falls by volume of commencements were from Nepal (down 2,471 commencements on 2011), Germany (down 703), Saudi Arabia (down 504) and Mauritius (down 360).

International student commencements from Asia accounted for 71.5 per cent of international student commencements, down from the 73.1 per cent recorded in 2011.  Between 2011 and 2012, commencements from Asia decreased by 7.6 per cent. In comparison, those from all other regions combined decreased by 0.1 per cent in the same period.

Sector

International student enrolments and commencements for 2012 declined across all education sectors except for ELICOS.  Enrolments and commencements in ELICOS grew by 0.2 per cent and 4.2 per cent respectively on 2011 figures.

International Student Enrolments and Commencements by Sector, 2012
Enrolments Commencements
Sector Number % of total Growth on
2011
Number % of total Growth on
2011
Higher Education 230,923 44.8% -4.3% 89,326 32.0% -6.4%
VET 145,540 28.2% -14.2% 85,317 30.5% -12.4%
ELICOS 95,224 18.5% 0.2% 75,377 27.0% 4.2%
Schools 18,599 3.6% -10.3% 8,444 3.0% -7.4%
Non-award* 25,567 5.0% -8.0% 20,871 7.5% -3.8%
All sectors 515,853 100.0% -6.9% 279,335 100.0%

-5.6%

*Previously referred to as the 'Other' sector.

Higher Education

Higher Education ranked first by volume of enrolments and of commencements. Enrolments in the sector in 2012 declined 4.3 per cent on 2011. This contrasts with the average annual growth rate of 6.4 per cent per year since 2002. Commencements declined by 6.4 per cent in the reporting period, compared with an average annual growth rate of 3.7 per cent per year since 2002.

In 2012, enrolments and commencements at the under-graduate level of study declined by 4.6 per cent and 12.3 per cent respectively on 2011 figures. In contrast, post-graduate research enrolments and commencements grew by 8.6 per cent and 4.1 per cent respectively over the same period.

China had the largest share of total enrolments (40.8%) and of total commencements (41.5%) in 2012.  Malaysia was the second largest source country by enrolments with 7.1 per cent, followed by India and Vietnam with 5.5 per cent and 4.8 per cent respectively.

In 2012, enrolments and commencements from China declined by 3.6 per cent and 8.0 per cent respectively on 2011 figures. Similarly, both measures for Malaysia also recorded declines; enrolments by 9.1 per cent and commencements by 14.1 per cent. India recorded a decline of 17.7 per cent in enrolments however commencements increased by 18.3 per cent. In contrast, enrolments from Vietnam increased by 1.8 per cent but commencements declined by 3.8 per cent.

Asian countries contributed 83.5 per cent each in enrolments and in commencements. Compared with 2011, enrolments and commencements from this region declined by 4.1 per cent and 6.0 per cent respectively in 2012. Enrolments and commencements from all other regions combined declined by 5.0 per cent and 8.2 per cent respectively.

“Management & Commerce” was the most popular broad field of education with 50.2 per cent of enrolments and 52.6 per cent of commencements. The next most popular fields were “Engineering & Related Technologies” and “Society & Culture” with 9.5 per cent and 7.6 per cent of enrolments respectively.

Vocational Education and Training (VET)

The VET sector ranked second by volume of enrolments and of commencements. Enrolments for 2012 fell by 14.2 per cent on 2011 figures. This contrasts with an average annual growth rate of 12.5 per cent per year since 2002.  Commencements for the same period decreased by 12.4 per cent on 2011 figures, compared with an average annual growth rate of 13.4 per cent per year since 2002.

In 2012, enrolments at the diploma and advanced diploma levels of study declined by 14.4 per cent on previous year’s figures. Commencements at these levels of study also declined 10.5 per cent.

Asian countries contributed 78.7 per cent of enrolments and 76.0 per cent of commencements in 2012. India had the largest share of total enrolments (27.5%) and of total commencements (23.0%). China was the second largest source country by enrolments with 10.9 per cent, followed by Thailand (6.5%) and the Republic of Korea (6.3%).

These four largest nationalities by volume of enrolments accounted for more than half (51.2%) of all enrolments in the sector. However, each recorded declines: India decreased by 27.1 per cent; China by 12.7 per cent; Thailand by 15.5 per cent and the Republic of Korea by 4.7 per cent. Commencements for the top three of these nationalities also declined – India by 29.5 per cent; China by 11.1 per cent; and Thailand by 20.2 per cent.  Commencements by students from Korea increased by 2.7 per cent.

“Management & Commerce” was the largest broad field of education in VET with 55.0 per cent of enrolments and 56.3 per cent of commencements in 2012. Both measures decreased, by 8.1 per cent and 14.1 per cent respectively. “Food, Hospitality & Personal Services” ranked second; enrolments in this field declined by 32.9 per cent and commencements by 15.7 per cent. “Society & Culture” was the third largest broad field of education and recorded declines of 21.4 per cent in enrolments and 7.4 per cent in commencements.

English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS)

ELICOS ranked third by volume of enrolments and of commencements. The sector was the only one to record growth in enrolments and in commencements in 2012. Enrolments grew by 0.2 per cent and commencements grew by 4.2 per cent on 2011.  This compares with average annual growth rates of 5.1 per cent for enrolments and 5.9 per cent for commencements since 2002.

Most of this growth occurred in July-December 2012 where commencements grew by 11.8 per cent over the same period in 2011. This may have resulted from new students undertaking preparatory study ahead of enrolling in a tertiary education course in first semester 2013.

The Asian region contributed 61.6 per cent of enrolments and 61.7 per cent of commencements in ELICOS. Enrolments from Asia declined by 2.4 per cent, however commencements grew 2.6 per cent on 2011 figures.  Enrolments and commencements from all other regions combined increased by 4.8 per cent and 6.9 per cent respectively in the same period.

China was the largest ELICOS market with a 26.4 per cent share of enrolments and 25.9 per cent of commencements. Enrolments and commencements from China declined by 8.9 per cent and 3.7 per cent respectively. The same measures for Brazil, the second largest ELICOS market, also declined by 0.8 per cent and 1.7 per cent respectively. 

Schools

The schools sector ranked fifth by volume of enrolments and of commencements, contributing 3.6 per cent of enrolments and 3.0 per cent of commencements. Enrolments and commencements for 2012 declined by 10.3 per cent and 7.4 per cent respectively on 2011 figures.

The Asian region contributed 84.7 per cent of enrolments and 76.3 per cent of commencements. China was the largest market with 45.0 per cent of enrolments and 41.8 per cent of commencements. Enrolments and commencements from this market declined, by 9.8 per cent and 7.4 per cent respectively. The Republic of Korea was the second largest market with 11.8 per cent of enrolments and 9.6 per cent of commencements, and recorded declines of 22.5 per cent and 22.3 per cent respectively. Vietnam was the third largest schools market with a share of 10.3 per cent of enrolments and 7.7 per cent share of commencements. Enrolments and commencements from Vietnam declined by 13.0 per cent and 7.6 per cent respectively.

Non-award

Previously called ‘Other’ (including Foundation, Bridging and Enabling courses plus other courses that do not lead to a qualification under the Australian Qualification Framework), the non-award sector ranks fourth by volume of enrolments and of commencements. In 2012, the sector contributed 5.0 per cent of enrolments and 7.5 per cent of commencements. Compared with 2011, enrolments and commencements declined by 8.0 per cent and 3.8 per cent respectively.

The Asian region accounted for 41.0 per cent of enrolments and 35.3 per cent of commencements. China was the largest contributing nationality for enrolments and second largest for commencements (23.9% and 19.7% respectively) in the sector. Both measures for students from China recorded declines (10.6% and 0.5% respectively). The USA was the second largest contributing nationality by volume of enrolments (21.8%) and largest of commencements (26.2%). Enrolments and commencements from America decreased by 11.9 per cent for each measure.

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