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 2017, 799,371 international students were enrolled in education programs in Australia. Of these, there were 350,472 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 16 per cent each year since 2012 to sit at 28,313 students in 2017.
Sector International student
enrolments 2017
Higher education 350,472
VET 217,696
ELICOS 155,448
Schools 25,762
Non-award 49,993
Total in Australia 799,371

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 2017
NSW 304,545
VIC 253,076
QLD 123,737
WA 53,897
SA 35,821
ACT 16,910
TAS 8,889
NT 2,495

Where are Australia's international students from?

The following table shows the international student enrolments for the top 10 nationalities in 2017, which made up approximately 70 per cent of Australia's enrolments in all sectors. The largest number of enrolments in the higher education sector were from China, India and Nepal; the largest in the VET sector were from India, China and the Republic of Korea; the largest in the ELICOS sector were from China, Brazil and Japan; and the largest in the schools sector were from China, Vietnam and the Republic of Korea.
Nationality International student
enrolments 2017
China 231,191
India 87,615
Brazil 36,496
Nepal 35,423
Malaysia 32,899
Republic of Korea 31,112
Thailand 30,730
Vietnam 30,536
Colombia 21,628
Indonesia 20,028
All nationalities 799,371

The information in this article was sourced from the Australian Government's Department of Education and Training 2017 international student enrolment data.

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