Nepal, Mongolia and Cambodia lead growth in student visa grants, January 2018

05 Apr 2018


  • Amy Godfrey

The Department of Home Affairs has released January 2018 student visa grants data. Total student visas granted to full fee paying international students increased by 6.6 per cent to over 200,000 in the July 2017 to January 2018 period, following strong growth of 11.0 per cent in the July 2016 to January 2017 period[1]. Student visa grant trends can indicate future trends in onshore international student commencements (new enrolments). The Department of Home Affairs recommend that potential students lodge their student visa applications between 4 months to 6 weeks prior to commencing a course.

Nepal overtook Brazil during the financial year to date (FYTD), becoming Australia’s third largest market for student visa grantees. The top three markets - China, India and Nepal - accounted for 88 per cent of the overall increase in student visa grants.

  • China remained the top market overall. Grants increased by 6.4 per cent after 14.3 per cent growth in the previous period, and China’s share of growth in grants declined from 31 per cent to 23 per cent. All sectors increased except Schools, with Higher Education accounting for 82 per cent of new grants. According to a recent report from the British Council, China’s 18 to 22 year old population is in decline, so outbound mobility growth is expected to slow.
  • Overall Indian growth doubled to 27 per cent during the period, while its share of the increase in total grants increased to 42 per cent (up from just 12 per cent in the previous period). 88 per cent of student visa grants to Indian students were for higher education courses. Indian students are increasingly choosing Higher Education over Vocational Education and Training (VET) due to changed post study work visa conditions: higher education graduates are entitled to two years of post-study work under the Temporary Graduate 485 visa.
  • Nepal’s growth rate decreased to 30.9 per cent from 75 per cent last year, but is still among the fastest growing markets. Demand has increased in recent years due to factors including an increase in the population of under 25 year olds, lack of postgraduate options in Nepal and promotion of Australia by agents in market (ICEF Monitor). Nepal’s share of the overall increase in student visa grants remains stable at 23 per cent driven by increases in VET and Higher Education.

The fastest growing markets within the top 50 markets included Mongolia, Cambodia and Nepal.

  • Student visa grants to Mongolian students increased by 52.0 per cent to 1,239, almost entirely due to an increase in Independent ELICOS[2] grants.
  • Cambodian student visa grants increased by 39.9 per cent to 579 grants (mostly in higher education)
  • Nepal grants increased by 30.9 per cent to 12,325. Grants for VET courses more than doubled while higher education grants increased by 15.8 per cent.

Fastest growing top 50 markets by % change, FYTD January 2018

All education sectors except Schools experienced growth in student visa grants during the period, though growth rates have slowed for four of the 6 sectors compared to the same period last year.

  • Higher education increased by 9.3 per cent, 1.9 per cent lower than the previous year and accounted for 74 per cent of the overall increase in student visa grants
  • VET growth slowed from 16.5 to 5.0 per cent, largely driven by a 25 per cent decline in India
  • Non-Award growth has increased to 17.5 per cent this year compared to 9.7 per cent last year, led by increases from Malaysia, Japan and Canada
  • Postgraduate Research grants increased by 6.1 per cent following a 1.8 per cent decline in the previous period. Growth was led by increases from Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and India.
  • Independent ELICOS grants increased by 1.8 per cent (down from 15.0 per cent last period)
  • Schools, the smallest international education sector, declined by 8.2 per cent following a 7.9 increase this time last year. 80 per cent of the overall decline in schools grants came from a decrease in grants to Chinese students.

For the full student visa data sets, visit the Department of Home Affairs Study in Australia page. For full year 2017 onshore student enrolment data, visit the Austrade website or for analysis, read this blog post.

[1]  All data in this analysis compares the July 2017 to January 2018 period (financial year to date 2017-18) with the July 2016 to January 2017 period. Data includes both primary and secondary visas granted and excludes the Defence and Foreign Affairs sectors, which include scholarship students. For more information visit the Home Affairs website.
[2]  English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS). The Independent ELICOS sector excludes pathway students doing English courses for entry into a higher level course. These students’ visa grants are allocated to the higher Australian Qualifications Framework level, for example, Higher Education or VET.