In the largest percentage increase since 2010, Australia’s export earnings from educating foreign students surged by 17 per cent in 2016. The new figure puts the total earnings at a record high of nearly $22 billion last year. This staggering figure officially makes international student education Australia’s third largest export earner, with the first two places being taken by iron ore and coal.
Australia has long been regarded as a popular destination for foreign students to participate in higher education. The statistics reflect the enviable global reputation of Australian universities, the high calibre of teaching staff, the reputation of researchers and the recognised prestige of an Australian university degree.
The Education Department’s own statistics put the number of foreign students studying in Australia in 2016 at around 400,000. Apart from the financial benefits to the sector, the presence of international students strengthens cultural, educational and research ties with a wide range of other institutions - and countries - around the world.
In additional to university fees, international students also have a positive impact on local economies through spending on accommodation, food, travel and a range of other day-to-day living expenses.