Release type: Media Release


Another bumper year for Australian international education


Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck
Minister for Tourism and International Education
Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment

Our international education sector is thriving with preliminary data today showing export income from education services was $19.65 billion in 2015 – an increase of 11.5 per cent since 2014 – according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data.

People travelling for educational purposes continues to be a large contributor to our thriving tourism industry with education related travel increasing by approximately 13 per cent during 2015 compared to the previous year.

These latest figures confirm the growing importance of international education in the context of Australia’s twenty-first century knowledge economy.

International education makes an exceptional contribution to Australian society, culture, international standing, and economic prosperity and it provides opportunities for people to experience different countries, languages and cultures.

The latest global education data from the OECD showed Australia was the third most popular study destination for international student after the USA and UK and one of the few major destination countries to increase its global market share over the last decade.

Most Australians think of minerals or agricultural produce when asked about our top export earners, however international education is actually Australia’s largest services export and is one of five key sectors that will provide economic growth into the future.

As Australia transitions from a resources based economy, to one supported by the services industries, the government will be working hard to ensure our existing successful and competitive services exports are well supported for future growth.

International education has been growing at an average of six per cent per year for the last ten years and the Government is committed to furthering this growth.

Today’s statistics follow on from recent good results for our international education sector. Australia was the second most represented country, with 16 universities, on the list of top 100 Most Internationalised Universities in the World, according to the latest Times Higher Education rankings.

However, there is always more that can be done, and international collaboration will be key.

I am leading work on a national strategy for international education, which is all about collaborating – across governments, across sectors and always through people-to-people links.

The national strategy will be based around three pillars - strengthening the fundamentals, building the partnerships and competing in the global environment, which are designed to underpin and support international education into the future.