Stats not speculation on international student numbers

by Dirk Mulder

Chinese students have not lost their appetite for Australian education

The Department of Education, Skills and Employment has released international student commencement data for July-October, 2020, demonstrating off-shore starts.

The research snapshot matches commencement data with student visa figures to demonstrate at least 22 per cent and as much as 33 per cent of starts were made by students outside Australia.

Of the 22 per cent (28,615) that could be confirmed as outside Australia, the majority were from China (22,468). While Australia’s broader relationship with China may be strained, China’s appetite for Australian education powers ahead.

DESE does warn, “commencements are difficult to accurately match to student visa data, hence the location of 11 per cent in this period could not be confirmed,” still, this is a significant figure.

Analysis of the pivot table indicates two categories: “new commencements”; and “not new commencements”.  The former is students with no record of a previous enrolment in Australia.

Of the new commencements, the total was 25,184 and China again dominates with a 51 per cent share, followed by India (11 per cent), Nepal (4 per cent) and South Korea (2.5 per cent). Indonesia (2 per cent) rounds out the top 5.

The total in the not new commencement category was 106,133 with China once again topping out with 23.4 per cent, followed by India (17 per cent), Nepal (9 per cent), Colombia (6 per cent), and Brazil (5.3 percent).

Returning Student Enrolments – A data driven view

Data from DESE last month also provides an indication of what may occur this year, based on numbers of international students likely to continue Australian study. The information comes from the government’s Provider Registration and International Student Management System.

This new research snapshot uses data from PRISMS’ reporting item “proposed” or “actual” study end dates, to predict, or identify, the number of 2020 student enrolments scheduled to continue into 2021.

Specifically, it looks at international student enrolments in the last quarter of 2020 (as of October 2020) which represent an opportunity to shape enrolment trends.

Enrolments as of October 15 are broken down by education sector and include the proportional change in enrolments compared to that date in 2019. This shows:

* Higher education accounted for 62 per cent of total international enrolments, down 13 per cent on 2019.

* VET had 32 per cent, up 3 per cent.

* Schools made up 3 per cent, down 11 per cent

* ELICOS was at 2 per cent down 66 per cent on 2019.

* Non-award had also taken a big hit, with 1 per cent of the enrolments, 56 per cent lower.

What happens this year will depend on the ability for institutions to keep attracting students into on-line study, and when borders open- which does not appear imminent.

Dirk Mulder is CMM’s International Education Correspondent