A return to growth : recent trends in higher education student visa numbers.

Daniel Edwards, ACER
Eva van der Brugge, ACER


The authors examine international student numbers in Australian higher education over the past seven years, based on various data sources. As described by Michael Knight in his Strategic Review of the Student Visa Program (2011) this is a time during which the international student market has been at the centre of a 'perfect storm'. The analyses in this briefing focus on changes in international student numbers in the past seven years, a time during which a number of issues have had an impact on the market. These included changes in Australian immigration policy, the strengthening of the Australian dollar, negative publicity surrounding the safety of international students and the closure of some tertiary providers (mainly in the VET area) that primarily enrolled international students. This briefing draws on new data from the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), supplemented by statistics collected from Australian Education International (AEI), and the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education (DIISRTE). It also uses data from the United States of America, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada for comparative purposes. Drawing on these varied sources, a more complete picture of forces influencing the international student market is established. The various factors influencing change over the past seven years are examined in the final sections of the briefing. [Author abstract]