The numbers

July YTD International numbers are out and when comparing to same time last year the nation sees a positive outlook with number up (enrolments up 8.6 per cent and commencements up 4.7 per cent).

As with all data it’s important to note it’s downfalls – while numbers in July are good indicators, typically August numbers provide a clearer picture as Semester Two commencement dates can vary from late July to early August year to year and  can impact July statistics.

Even so, serious data swings, beyond what may occur between July and August that require deeper analysis. The data-points that stand out are (all numbers are commencements):

Higher education in NSW is down 8.71 per cent. There are some timetable movements in NSW, however the statistic to note of is the number of Chinese students is down. In Higher ED NSW is down 5329 students or 23.9%.

Victorian schools sector in Victoria is down, by 15.6 per cent. Again, the main mover, is China with 506 (28.6 per cent) fewer student commencements.

Queensland  higher education is up  by 16.1 per cent.- It’s a good news story for the sunshine state with higher ed prospering. China and Nepal are up around 13 per cent, India  by 47.6 per cent, Sri Lanka 54.5 per cent, Bangladesh up 21.7 per cent and Saudi Arabia 81.1 per cent.

South Australia  higher education is up 18.34per cent – China is up 6.1 per cent, India 56.1 per cent, Nepal 30.5 per cent, Saudi Arabia is up 43.3 per cent, Sri Lanka 36 per cent, Taiwan 36.8 per cent and Vietnam 23 per cent

 SA VET is up 38.6 per cent – China up 30.1 per cent, HK 44.2 per cent, India 55.1 per cent, Philippines 184 per cent, Sri Lanka 44.4 per cent

WA higher education is up 23.08% – China holds-steady, seeing growth of 1.9 per cent, while other nations deliver large increases; Bangladesh up 28.1 per cent, Bhutan up 59.2 per cent, India 35.1 per cent, Nepal 56.8 per cent, Pakistan 49 per cent, Saudi Arabia 75 per  cent and Sri Lanka 196.1 per cent

TAS VET  is up 77.8 per cent – Some very large increases for the VTE sector in Tassie. China is up 95.5 per cent, India 64.3 per cent, Nepal 133 per cent and Pakistan 119 per cent

Northern Territory VET is up 111.7 per cent, although on a smaller base  the NT sector has performed very well through end of July. Of the larger nationalities to fill the mix India is up 189 per cent, Nepal a whopping 1272 per cent, and the Philippines 140.9 per cent

ACT higher education is down 12.8 per cent. China is down 14.2 per cent, or 520 students and accounts for the majority of the downturn. Of note however Nepal is up 96.2 per cent and Saudi Arabia is up 91.7 per cent


China is slowing

There has been much talk of China slowing and it seems this is certainly occurring.

Across the nation Chinese commencements are down 7.5 per cent or 7609 less students. This is hardest felt in the HE sector in NSW which is down 24 per cent or 5329. With some growth in VET from China the net result is 5281 students down or 14.1 per cent. In Victoris HE is marginally down however ELICOS drops 1399 students or 21.7 per cent, with a new overall downturn from China in the state of 1816 student commencement. Queensland is up and down via sectors with a net growth of 304 students or 2.3 per cent. SA and WA are overall consistent while Tasmania is 302 students (16.1%) up. The ACT had the largest decline being 24 per cent, or 1189 Chinese students down, on this time last year.

The Regional Scheme is starting to show in statistics

Earlier in the year the Feds announced an additional Temporary Graduate visa with an extra year of post-study work rights for international students who: graduate from the regional campus of a registered university or institution with a higher education or postgraduate qualification; and maintain ongoing residence in a regional area while holding their first Temporary Graduate (subclass 485) visa.The second Temporary Graduate visa will require ongoing residence in a regional area.

The definition of regional Australia for this purpose will be the same as the definition for skilled migration – all of Australia except Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

The July data appears to confirm the program is doing what it set out to achieve, or at least is popular with students from a subset of countries. Three of the four states on the regional list top the growth of commencements in the July YTD figures. NT is at 43 per cent, Tasmania is at 33.2 per cent and South Australia is at 15.85 per cent. The only state / territory on the list not to figure is the ACT which appears to be suffering at -15.43 per cent.

The Saudi’s are returning

Across Australia the amount of commencements are 62.1 per cent up or an additional 1286 students commencing their studies as compared to the same time last year. Not surprisingly the majority of these are in the HE sector, the sector itself is up 80 per cent (811 additional commencements) with 469 of these going to VIC.

WA is an anomaly

WA’s higher education sector appears to be recovering well (23.1 per cent growth in commencements) however the state’s VET sector is the only one to be in the red around the country (-8 per cent) with schools and non award slight down and ELICOS slightly up. Why is this important? The McGowan government received much criticism that the state wouldn’t be joining the national regional scheme.  Instead, and some time later, it developed it’s own state sponsored graduate list which appears to cater for PhD, Masters, Bachelor and higher degree students only. The list is here. The scheme appears to be working well for the higher ed sector however the VET, and perhaps other sectors, do not appear to be able to cash in.

Dirk Mulder is an international education business developer, strategist and market analyst. Contact him @ [email protected]


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