Education: the most valuable export that isn’t dug up


And it is really, really, important to Victoria

 Alan Olsen, from consultants Strategy, Policy, and Research in Education (SPRE) has looked at the export impact of education through the pandemic, HERE.

He found that in 2021 education was Australia’s fifth largest export, nearly as valuable as gold. Education remains the top export that isn’t dug up. The value of education is $22b with only gold, natural gas, coal and iron ore ahead of it, albeit, in the case of iron ore, a long way ($155bn).

As Mr Olsen writes, “Australia’s education exports totalled $40bn in 2019. This included $17bn in tuition fees paid by international students and $23bn in international students’ living expenses while they studied in Australia. China has accounted for one third of Australia’s education exports over the past few years”

In March 2020, Australia closed its borders to non-citizens and non-residents in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. It was not until December 2021 that fully vaccinated international students were able to enter.

In 2019-2021, the value of education as an export nearly halved, from $40.3 bn in 2019 to $22bn in 2021. But the value of tourism as an export just about disappeared, from $22.6bn in 2019 to $0.412bn in 2021. CMM finds this last statistic very interesting indeed.

The split by state for 2021 was,

 NSW: education was the second most valuable export for NSW, behind coal. It’s a big gap though, coal’s value was ≈$22.5bn with Education at $8.025bn

 Victoria: education led the export charge, at $6.95bn the next largest was meat at approximately $3bn

Queensland: No surprises, coal led at just shy of $35bn with education coming in third $3.2bn, behind meat $6bn

South Australia: education was $1.4bn, second only to copper at $1.6bn

Western Australia: education at $1.3bn was eighth behind oil seeds, other precious ores, other mineral, gold coin, wheat, gold –  and iron ore at number at a whopping $150 bn plus.

Tasmania: education was fourth, at $428m behind aluminium, iron ore and zinc, first at just shy of 900m

Northern Territory: Education is also fourth, at $140m behind alumina, live animals, and other ores at number one, worth ≈$625m

 Dirk Mulder advises education and business clients on trends in international education. He writes regularly for CMM