Dirk Mulder on international student providers: there are losers and bigger losers


The news is least-bad in VET

International student data for July-November is out and the numbers aren’t as good as the previous quarter (CMM 19 Jan) and way worse than a year ago. Commencements were down 35 per cent on the same quarter in 2019, dropping from 234 880 to 152,965.

The feds match commencements with student visa data to estimate that between 21 per cent and 32 per cent of July-November starts were by people outside Australia.

Of the 21 per cent that can be confirmed as ex-Australia the majority were in China, 24 393, up from 22 468 to 24 393 in the immediately preceding quarter.

By sector the divide is between losers and bigger losers.

HE commencements were down a third, to 50,540 (33.8 percent). New commencers, or those who had not previously studied a course in Australia, were down 62 per cent to 15 114. 

ELICOS was down 61 per cent in total commencers and 80 per cent in new commencers. Schools dropped 77.1 per cent for total commencers and 86 percent for new starters. And non-award took a huge hit, 79 per cent lower in total and 85 per cent for first time starts.

There was good news, albeit not much for VET. While new commencements were down 70 per cent, total commencers dropped 6.7 per cent, an improvement on the previous quarter.

It’s another indication students are moving from other sectors into VET as a way to stay in Australia.

Overall, there will be more declines to come while the border stays closed and ELICOS and schools have fewer students to send into the system. The feeder systems need urgent attention and support so they will still be in business when students return.

 CMM would love to report any distinctions between subject areas but the feds response to a request was that, “detailed data on international student field and level of study isn’t released publicly.”

Not helpful.

Dirk Mulder is CMM’s international education correspondent