International students in Australia
Australia ranked third in top study abroad destinations with a total market value of over 5 million AUD (3.47 million USD) generated by international students in 2018. With the wishing to gain a high-quality education, have immigration or experience a different life, in 2018, 869,709 international students were enrolled in education program in Australia, which was about 8.8% higher than the amount in 2017 (799,371). Each year, many new international students will enrol in Australian courses and add to the already significant international student body around the country.
Australia has the highest ratio of international students per head of population in the world by a large margin. Accordingly, in 2019, international students represented on average 26.7% of the student bodies of Australian universities. International education therefore represents one of the country's largest exports and has a pronounced influcence on the country's demographics, with a significant proportion of international students remaining in Australia after graduation on various skill and employment visas.
According to the data released by the Departure of Education and Training of the Australian Government, China is the most significant source of international students to Australia. India had the second largest proportion of the enrolments, followed by Brazil, Nepal and Malaysia.
All international students are required to obtain a valid student visa before they abroad to Australia for studying. When students apply for their student visa through the Department of Home Affairs of the Australian Government, they need to submit the electronic Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) and a compulsory English language proficiency test score to lodge their visa application. Also, each student visa applicant must prove that they have enough financial ability to pay for their tuition fees, books and daily living expenses while they study in Australia.
After the Australian government published the new immigration policy, international students are encouraged to study, work and stay in regional areas in Australia, such as Adelaide, Tasmania and the Northern Territory . In order to protect the local workforces, the Australian government intends to reduce the number of accepted migrants, and in the long-term, the government aims to set the cap of skilled immigration to about 160,000.
- 1 Definitions
- 2 Classification
- 3 Requirements
- 4 Impact on Australia's economy
- 5 Immigration policy for international students
- 6 References
In Australia, a student is considered as an international student if he/she is not an Australian citizen, Australian permanent resident, New Zealand citizen, or a holder of an Australian permanent resident humanitarian visa.
The top 3 states in Australia for foreign enrolment in 2018 are listed below.
|Rank||Destination States||Number of Students||Per cent of Total|
|1||NSW / New South Wales||333,913||38.39%|
|2||VIC / Victoria||278,975||32.08%|
|3||QLD / Queensland||134,312||15.44%|
Distribution of International Students in major cities and regional areas
In 2018, 3% of international students enrolled in Australia stayed in regional locations of Australia, while 97% of international students chose to settle down in major cities. All enrolments in Tasmania and the Northern Territory are considered as enrolled in regional areas.
New South Wales had the largest number of international students, up to 333,913. Queensland had the largest regional area proportion (5%), followed by New South Wales (1%) and Victoria (1%).
China was the main source country for enrolments, which contributed 24% of regional area enrolments. Nepal (7%) had the second large proportion of the regional area enrolments, followed by Malaysia, South Korea and the USA, all of which are contributed three per cent to total regional enrolments.
|State / Territory||Share||Enrolments||Total|
|Major cities||Regional area||Major cities||Regional area|
Top 10 regional centres for international student enrolments in 2018 are listed below.
|State / Territory||Regional centres||2017||2018||Share||Growth in 2017|
|NSW||Richmond - Tweed||1,442||1,554||6%||8%|
|NSW||New England and North West||1,350||1,427||5%||6%|
|TAS||Launceston and North East||1,381||1,389||5%||1%|
|Total enrolments in regional areas||24,209||26,739||100%||10%|
By sending countries and regions
Top 15 countries and regions sending students to Australia in 2018 are listed below.
|Rank||Country||Number of Students||per cent of Total|
|7||Korea, Republic of (South)||21,799||3.14%|
|15||United States of America||11,468||1.65%|
|(total out of 693,750 students in Australia during January - December in 2018)|
Generally, international students as citizens of other countries are required to obtain a valid student visa, which ascertains their legal status for staying in Australia. Students who have obtained the Student Visa (subclass 500) can stay in Australia for up to 5 years, depending on their enrolment. In Australia, when students apply for their visa, they need to get the Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) for each course and submit it to the Department of Home Affairs of the Australian Government. Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC) is compulsory for all overseas students. Each student visa applicant must prove that they have enough financial ability to pay for their tuition, books and daily living expenses while they study in Australia. Overseas students enrolled in an English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS, offered by secondary schools) with a student visa are required to study full time (tourist and visitors to Australia can also participate in ELICOS study during their stay).
In 1 July 2016, after a new Simplified Student Visa Framework (SSVF) was implemented in Australia, the Department of Home Affairs of Australian Government introduced a new immigration risk framework to determine the amount of documents a student needs to submit with their application form, based on their country of citizenship and intended education provider.
According to the new released Simplified Student Visa Framework (SSVF), foreign students are able to provide a Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) to meet the English language requirements for their student visa application. The Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) is a piece of evidence to prove that the English language requirements for their course are equal to or higher than the requirements for a student visa. However, those foreign students who assessed at a higher immigration risk level will still need to attend an English language test and to provide evidence of their English language proficiency through one of the English tests accepted by Australia with an approved test score.
English language proficiency requirements
International students who apply to study in Australia will need to meet English language proficiency requirements to obtain a valid student visa. Students must have taken the English language test in the last two years before they apply for a students visa, or the validity will expire. 
English language proficiency evidence exemptions
All international students will need to meet the English language proficiency requirements to gain entry into their course and receive a student visa.
- Students who are a citizen and passport holder of UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand or the Republic of Ireland.
- An applicant who is a Foreign Affairs or, Defence sponsored student or a Secondary Exchange Student (AASES).
- Students who have completed at least five years of study in one or more of the following countries: Australia, UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, or the Republic of Ireland.
- In last two years of applying for a student visa, students who have completed either the Senior Secondary Certificate of Education or a course leading to a qualification from the Australian Qualifications Framework at the Certificate IV or higher level in Australia.
- Students enrolled full time in school studies as a principal course (including secondary exchange programs), a registered postgraduate research or a standalone English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) program
All other students are required to provide evidence of English language proficiency (with a Confirmation of Enrolment(CoE) or an approved English language test scores).
Types of English Language Proficiency tests accepted in Australia
- International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
- Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) *internet-based test (paper-based test is also accepted)
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
- Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic)
- Occupational English Test (OET)
Minimum English language proficiency test score required
The requirements for English language proficiency tests scores will vary depending on the institution they choose, their country of citizenship and whether they are preparing to enrol in an English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) course.
For student visa applicants, the minimum scores accepted for each test are listed in the table below.
for the international students who do not meet the English language test requirement, they are suggested to complete an English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) to improve their English language skills.
|English language test providers||Minimum score||Minimum score and at least 10 weeks ELICOS (English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students)||Minimum score and at least 20 weeks ELICOS|
|International English Language Testing System (IELTS)||5.5||5.0||4.5|
|Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)||46||35||32|
|Cambridge English: Advanced (Certificate in Advanced English /CAE)||162||154||147|
|Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic)||42||36||30|
|Occupational English Test (OET)||B for each test component / Pass (A orB)||Pass (A orB)||Pass (A orB)|
However, even though the government have provided the minimum English language proficiency tests scores required for student visa application, foreign students may still need to get a higher score to get enrolled into their desire institution and courses. Some specific courses, such as law, education, medical programs, are likely to have a higher requirement, while the requirements for an English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) and Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses are usually lower.
Impact on Australia's economy
According to the survey prepared by Deloitte Access Economics and the Australian government, international education was predicted to contribute about seventeen billion to Australia’s GDP in a 2014-15 financial year. This value is the sum of:
- Twelve billion of direct value which is the paid tuition fee to the education providers and the learning materials and services which sold to the students
- Five billion of indirect value, which is the payment of the education providers to their suppliers, for example, printing and information technology support services.
Apart from that, international students make a substantial contribution to the development of many regional areas as there is at least five per cent of students living and studying in those communities. In 2014-15, the international student spent about 3 billion of expenditure (for purchasing goods and services) to Melbourne while 900 million indirect value flowed to regional communities and massively supported the agricultural products and other linkages. Finally, the consequence of student consumption supported approximately 12,746 jobs in regional Victoria.
Furthermore, in 2014-2015, The stocks of international students were estimated to deliver about 130,000 skilled migrants after the graduation year. This number of skilled migrants had increased 3% of Australia’s current workforce with tertiary education. In the financial year of 2018, international students inject $31.9 billion into the Australian economy, directly boosting Australian jobs and wages, generating jobs, supporting wages, and lifting the living standards of Australia.
International students inject almost $32 billion into Australia's economy each year and support 130,000 Australian jobs. They also bring Australia and the world closer together, and built important diplomatic and personal ties.
According to the warning by NSW auditors, Australian universities is now suffering from a "market concentration risk" since their finance and budget rely too much on foreign student fees. As the report shows, in the New South Wales, the international students tuition fees injects $2.8 billion AUD into universities, which accounts for 28% of the total revenue. The University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales, two universities in NSW, accounted for more than 50% of their total revenue from international students' tuition fees.
Immigration policy for international students
The current immigration policy published by Australian government encourages foreign students to work and stay in regional areas, such as Adelaide and Tasmania, by reducing the quota of skilled independent visa entrants (change from subclass 175 and subclass 885 to subclass 189), and in the meantime increasing the number of skilled regional (provisional) visa (change from subclass 457 to 489).
|New South Wales||Everywhere except Sydney, Newcastle, the Central Coast and Wollongong||2311 to 2312, 2328 to 2411, 2410 to 2490, 2536 to 2551, 2575 to 2594, 2618 to 2739, 2787 to 2898|
|Northern Territory||Everywhere in the territory||All postcodes|
|Queensland||Everywhere except the greater Brisbane area and the Gold Coast||4124 to 4125, 4133, 4211, 4270 to 4272, 4275, 4280, 4285, 4287, 4307 to 4499, 4515, 4517 to 4519, 4522 to 4899|
|South Australia||Everywhere in the state||All postcodes|
|Tasmania||Everywhere in the state||All postcodes|
|Victoria||Everywhere except the Melbourne metropolitan area||3211 to 3334, 3340 to 3424, 3430 to 3649, 3658 to 3749, 3753, 3756, 3758, 3762, 3764, 3778 to 3781, 3783, 3797, 3799, 3810 to 3909, 3921 to 3925, 3945 to 3974, 3979, 3981 to 3996|
|Western Australia||Everywhere except Perth and surrounding areas||6041 to 6044, 6083 to 6084, 6121 to 6126, 6200 to 6799|
|*For use when applying for skilled visas:
In 2017, the government accepted about 162,000 migrants, which was about 10% lower than the accepted amount in 2016. The long-term forecast of the Australian Government aims to set the cap of skilled immigrants to about 160,000. The primary reason behind such decisions is to protect the local workforces and also to diminish the tension between locals and the recent immigrants. For instance, locals believe that the investment and settlement of the immigrants has led to the recent rapid increase in accommodation market price and the decreasing quality of health and welfare in Australia.
One of the primary reasons for some international students to study in Australia is to settle down after their graduation. Hence, the change in the policy will hugely affect the graduation pathway of international students. Since the new policy is published recently, further research will need to be conducted later for obtaining more relevant information to understand its effects on the students. For instance, a survey can be conducted for the selected group.
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