Release type: Media Release


Record Growth in International Students in 2008

The number of enrolments by international students in Australian institutions increased by a record 20.7 per cent to 543,898 in 2008 – the largest increase since 2002. This is the first time international enrolments have exceeded 500,000 in a calendar year.The increase in student enrolments from Asia, up by 21.5 per cent, is recognition of Australia’s ongoing relationship with our Asian neighbours and the strong awareness of Australia as a quality education destination around the world.

In 2008, the largest number of enrolments were from China (127,276). The majority of all 2008 international student enrolments were in the higher education sector, which grew 4.7 per cent over the previous year.International students contribute to our economic, social and educational development, bringing new ideas and greater cross-cultural understanding to Australia. These connections have been vital in the expansion of business, diplomatic and academic links with the rest of the world over the past 50 years.The impact of the global financial crisis on international student enrolments in 2009 will become clearer in the coming weeks. It is encouraging to hear a number of Australian education institutions reporting continuing strong interest from international students wishing to study in Australia. The Australian Government is working closely with Australia’s international education industry to ensure this interest is maintained in 2010 and beyond.International education contributed $14.2 billion to the economy in 2007-08; making it Australia’s third-largest export behind coal and iron ore. International student enrolment statistics are available at