International students in Australia

How many international students are studying in Australia?Group of students stand in circle holding passports

Australia is a popular study destination with students from around the world wishing to gain a top-quality education. Each year, many new international students enrol in Australian courses and add to the already significant international student body around the country.

In 2015, 645,185 international students were enrolled in education programs in Australia. Of these, there were 272,095 international students enrolled in the higher education sector.

Which education sectors are international students studying in?

Most of the international students in Australia are studying in the higher education sector, followed by the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector, the English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) sector and the schools sector (see table below).

Data shows that ELICOS continues to provide a popular pathway for international students moving into the VET and higher education sectors. In 2015, 30 per cent of international students who commenced a higher education course had previously studied in the ELICOS sector, while 37 per cent of international students who commenced a VET course in 2015 did so through an ELICOS pathway.
Foundation courses are also increasing in popularity, with enrolment numbers rising by 18 per cent each year since 2012 to sit at 17,044 students in 2015.
Sector International student
enrolments 2015
Higher education 272,095
VET 169,700
ELICOS 145,298
Schools 20,596
Non-award 37,496
Total in Australia 645,185

Which states and territories are international students studying in?

New South Wales and Victoria attract the largest numbers of international students. The other states and territories have smaller numbers of international students and smaller numbers of students overall.

State/territory International student
enrolments 2015
NSW 243,206
VIC 195,804
QLD 103,251
WA 50,484
SA 32,089
ACT 12,830
TAS 5,269
NT 2,160

Where are Australia's international students from?

The following table shows the international student enrolments for the top 10 nationalities in 2015, which made up 67 per cent of Australia’s enrolments in all sectors. The largest number of enrolments in the higher education sector were from China, India and Malaysia; the largest in the VET sector were from India, the Republic of Korea and China; the largest in the ELICOS sector were from China, Brazil and Thailand; and the largest in the schools sector were from China, Vietnam and the Republic of Korea.
Nationality International student
enrolments 2015
China 170,212
India 72,504
Vietnam 29,575
Republic of Korea 28,725
Thailand 27,965
Brazil 24,672
Malaysia 24,123
Nepal 19,807
Indonesia 19,300
Pakistan 16,091
All nationalities 645,185

The information in this article was sourced from the Australian Government’s Department of Education and Training 2015 international student enrolment data.

Back to top

Subscribe to our newsletter