International students crave more than education
As international students flock to Australia, they seek more than just the
world-class education – they are also avid travellers. International
students want to experience our natural wonders, enjoy our culture and
explore the personal ties they have with Australia.
This means there is now a vital bond between international education and
In 2018, approximately 577,000 short-term international students visited
Australia. While their stay was brief – less than 12 months – their impact
was anything but. On average each student spent more than A$20,000. As a
group, short-term international students contributed A$11.5 billion to the
national economy while in Australia.
Like all students, these visitors are attracted to the big cities. Sydney
and Melbourne are the main drawcards, but Brisbane and Perth were also
popular choices. These cities attracted 85% of international education
visitors for their studies, and are home to five of the
world’s top 100
They are curious and seek adventure
It’s not all about lectures and tutorials. Approximately 31% of
international students venture beyond their study base to go on a holiday
while in Australia. These trips are driven by:
Australia’s natural wonders
. Students made 125,000 trips to the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru or the
Great Ocean Road, which was more than one in four visitors to those
attractions in 2018. Many of these trips were made by students based in
Sydney and Melbourne, which means they are willing to travel great
distances to see our most iconic attractions.
Previous ties to Australia.
Seven-in-ten education visitors have been to Australia before, and 8%
travelled across Australia to visit friends and relatives. For example,
an international student studying in Sydney may have travelled to the
North Coast or even Brisbane to visit friends while in Australia.
Australian lifestyle and culture experiences.
Regardless of where they stayed, 79% of international education
visitors participated in outdoor and nature activities, 55% had a food
experience and 15% experienced indigenous culture. The fact that
international students stay longer than other visitors means they are
more likely to immerse themselves in Australian culture.
Tourism and international education, a recipe for growth
The continued changes in international student behaviour translate into
changing spending behaviours. While education fees continue to account for
the largest share of international student spend (48%), these visitors are
now focussing more on experiences. For example, student visitors now spend
almost A$1 billion on shopping and entertainment.
Today, the impact that international education visitors have on Australia
is deeper and wider than ever before. While international students help
support Australia’s education system, they are large contributors to
Australia’s A$140 billion tourism industry and their links to – and
intrigue in – Australia continue to influence their travel patterns.
Understanding the links between international education and tourism can
create fresh opportunities. Gaining a better understanding of the dynamics
involved will allow these sectors to leverage future opportunities and has
the potential to deliver greater national benefits.