Australian international education

Australia has a state-of-the art education system that delivers high-quality education and training products.

Australian international education encompasses all levels of the education system:

Schools—Australian schools support more than 3.7 million students each year, with a broad curriculum delivered by university qualified teachers. Focussing on growing our international student numbers at the school level will provide significant opportunities for continued engagement through further education. 

English language—Australia provides English language teaching to students in Australia and in their own countries through formal in-country programs or distance education. For many students, this is a stepping stone to further study in Australia. 

Vocational education and training—Australia's vocational education and training system has been developed with industry to meet the needs of employers as well as students. 

Higher education—Australia’s higher education system consists of 169 higher education providers, including 43 universities that attract international students, researchers and academics, and produces in-demand graduates. 

Research—by a network of international collaborators.

Sector providers include those delivering student and teacher training, frameworks and content, education technology and software, and research and development.

Supporting all levels of education, Australia has rigorous quality assurance and student protection systems. We also have attractive visa arrangements to draw the best students and researchers to Australia, and to encourage work-study arrangements that increase industry experience and graduate employability.

Australia consistently ranks among the most popular study destinations for international students. In 2015, there were 498,155 students who chose to come to Australia to further their education. Australia is ranked third in the world for attracting international students in tertiary education, with around 6 per cent of the market, and we significantly outperform our competitors on a per capita basis.

Looking to the future

Global trends

Global trends can play a significant role in the international education market. Whilst some of these trends present a threat to growth, many also create real opportunities for those who are able to meet the needs of the market. 

Increased global development and industrialisation, particularly within the Indo-Pacific region, will increase demand for skilled workers. Some countries face a significant shortfall. 

An increase in incomes and a growing middle class, again within the Indo-Pacific region, is increasing demand for high-quality schooling and higher education with strong employability outcomes. Today’s students also want greater choice in what, where, when and how they learn.

The global economy is driving increased mobility across the workforce, with many students, professionals and researchers relocating to take advantage of education, training, research and employment in other countries. 

Improved technology is enabling the development of new modes of education delivery, including onshore, in-market and online. In-market and online delivery will broaden the reach of Australian education products. 

Our competitors

The majority of the international market is serviced by a few countries, with the top six educating just over 50 per cent of all internationally mobile students. Australia’s chief competition currently comes from the United States and the United Kingdom, who hold 19 per cent and 10 per cent of the market respectively, and we are closely trailed by France, Germany, Japan and Canada. Like Australia, these countries are also actively seeking to increase their market share. 

In addition, emerging players like China and India are keen to expand their international education offerings, especially in higher education. They are also increasing their competitiveness in the market by offering courses in English. Just as Australian education providers look to opportunities offshore, these countries are also actively pursuing offshore delivery, including here in Australia.

Future opportunities

The increase in global education needs and the rise of new technologies represent significant opportunities for Australian international education to grow and compete.

Australia is well positioned to play a leading role in educating students to help meet the changing workforce needs of the global economy. 

With employability a key driver for why students choose to undertake a particular course of study, there is a need for education providers to offer not only qualifications that give the skills desired by industry, but also work integrated learning opportunities that further boost the employability of graduates. Australian educators are working closely with industry to develop these products. 

Keeping abreast of the developments in relevant countries is vital to realising our potential future growth. We need to accurately predict labour market opportunities where we can offer a quality education experience that meets the needs of local industries. 

Many of these opportunities may occur offshore, and could also centre on capacity building, such as training the trainers, as well as providing direct training. Opportunities may also exist in the provision of less formal training, where the focus is on achieving competencies designed to address particular skills requirements, as opposed to a full qualification. 

A 2015 report by Deloitte Access Economics, Growth and Opportunity in Australian International Education, commissioned by Austrade, identifies new and emerging priority markets. Growth is expected to continue to come from China and India, with the Philippines and Thailand also offering strong potential. The Australian Government has also identified China, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Korea, Malaysia and Hong Kong as important markets to pursue. 

In-market delivery will broaden the number of students who can access Australian education products. This may occur through partnership arrangements with local providers, onshore presence of Australian education providers or through distance learning. Given the scale of the potential demand, Australian training providers may increase capacity through partnership or consortia arrangements with one another when entering these markets. The success of this strategy is dependent on stakeholders working together to grow our international education offerings. 

With all of these opportunities, it is important to remember that they will only be realised if we continue our commitment to high quality. This is what attracts students and industry to us to meet their needs, this is what gives us access to new markets, and this is what will provide the basis for growth. 

Melbourne's critical mass of biomedical excellence

The Parkville biomedical precinct and surrounds are home to around 10,000 scientists, clinicians and technical staff engaged in biomedical and health care research, practice and training. The research institutions include the University of Melbourne, Monash University, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). This co-location facilitates research collaboration and organisations in the precinct, and researchers have created and commercialised many medical and technical innovations—for example, the bionic ear, retinal imaging, vaccines, diagnostics, microsurgical instruments and antibiotics.