Higher education by numbers

16 December 2016

The higher education system in Australia is a major contributor to economic prosperity and social cohesion. Australia’s universities now have more than 1.3 million students and 120,000 staff across nearly 200 campuses.

In this new data snapshot series for HIGHER ED.ITION, we’ve pulled together some of the recent numbers that highlight the contributions that universities make.

Here’s a few insights that might surprise you.

Nearly two out of five young people in Australia now have a bachelor degree or higher.


Proportion of Aust aged 25-34 with bachelor degreev2


Students from low SES backgrounds are more likely than ever to go to university.

Improved equity

To deliver excellence in teaching and research, our universities employ more than 50,000 world-class academic staff.

Staff unisv2


The number of Australian students studying abroad as part of their degree is growing too – preparing them for global careers.

Student intl experience

Despite a wealth of choice, international students are also increasingly choosing Australia as their study destination.

Share of international students

In fact, in 2016 we’ll host more than a half a million overseas students.

International students so far in 2016

Just behind iron ore and coal, international education remains Australia’s third largest export – making an enormous contribution to our national economy…


… and to our state and regional economies.

export income per state


Through our strong international education offerings, Australian universities have developed our country’s economic and diplomatic ties with the world. 

For more on the many contributions of Australia’s universities, follow the links below:
- Australian Higher Education leads in attracting and retaining international students
- New data: almost nine out of ten university graduates in full-time employment
- International education generates a record $20.3 billion for Australia
- Australian universities' formal agreements over time
- Australian universities: key facts and data
- Higher Education and Research: facts and figures