Dirk Mulder on international enrolments: really bad for business


February international commencing and enrolment stats were released earlier in the week – the bad news keeps coming

CMM looked at the top-line and VET results earlier this week and now a year into the pandemic it’s time for a deeper dive into where HE is suffering.

Bad for bized: “Business and Management” was the biggest loser over the past year. Nationwide enrolments are down 9,975 (17.6 per cent). NSW, down 3,777 and VIC down 3,625, bear the brunt of the loss. 74.2 percent of it.

Commencements are down nationally 3939 (45.1 per cent). With commencing numbers down so dramatically there is more pain to come as these lower starts work through the system. With “accounting” taking the second biggest hit business deans will need to find funding alternatives. Enrolments in accounting programmes are down 8,308 (33.5 per cent). NSW down 4,301 and VIC down 2,545 again take the pain, accruing 82.4 per cent of the national figure. Commencements are down 995 (53.8 per cent).

Awful for engineering and IT: The “Other Information Technology” narrow field of study is third worst overall, with a drop of 5,226 enrolments (down 30.9 per cent) NSW and VIC account for 84.3 per cent of the enrolment downturn. Commencements are down 772 (40.7 per cent). “Engineering and related technologies” is down 2,744 enrols (17.7 per cent). NSW and VIC account for 89.3 per cent of the enrolment downturn. Commencements are down 639 or (36.7 per cent).

Rounding out the terrible top five is “Other Engineering and related technologies”’ down 1,872 enrols (20.7 per cent), NSW and VIC account for 70.9 per cent of national enrolment decreases. Commencers down 751 (59.8 per cent).

Small wins: “Human welfare studies and Services” grew by 630 enrolments (up 15.3 per cent) but with commencements down 134 (12.4 per cent) the win is but temporary. “Economic and econometrics” is up 218 enrolments (5.6 per cent) but down 358 commencers (40.7 percent). Teacher education is up 152 enrolments (3 per cent) but down 246 commencers 920.5 per cent). It is a very similar story with the rest of the top ten enrolment growth fields of study with the exception of ‘Education’ which grew both enrolments and commencement numbers, from a very low base.

What it means: Is more pain to come, much more. If these commencement numbers continue in a negative 20-50 per cent range then post mid-year exits without new students to support the enrolment base the situation will become much, much worse.

CMM thinks being a dean of business, IT or engineering in NSW or Victoria will particularly hard yakka over the next 12 months.

Dirk Mulder is CMM’s international education correspondent.