Australia reaches new international student milestone

19 March 2018

Australia has welcomed more than half a million international students over the past year, helping to deepen our ties with the world.

In 2017, there were 624,000 international students in Australia representing 194 nationalities, with the majority studying in higher education institutions.

Universities Australia marked the milestone with a series of short videos with international students from countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Pakistan, Kenya, China and Indonesia.

Australia’s international education offerings started out in the 1950s as essentially a small-scale international friendship program.

It has since grown to be our third largest export and it is incredibly important to our diplomatic, political, trade and business connections around the world.

Every student who comes to study here is a potential ambassador for Australia when they return to their home countries.

The people-to-people links created during their time studying in Australia is important for Australia’s relationships in the region.

Australian students also benefit from a truly global perspective in their education.

Beyond the vast cultural, social and personal value to Australia, the education of international students also generated more than $30.9 billion in export income in 2017.

The videos feature international students talking about the things they have loved about studying in Australia, and why they would recommend Australia to others.

Universities Australia’s Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said the fact that so many international students elect to study here is testament to the quality of our higher education system.

“They're choosing to come to Australia in record numbers for a world-class higher education, the lifestyle, and our safe and welcoming communities,” Ms Robinson said.

“This is something about which all Australians can be proud,” she said.

Education Minister Senator Simon Birmingham said the latest data showed that international students were voting with their feet.

“Australia’s schools, universities and training providers are amongst the best in the world and that’s being recognised by students from all over the globe,” Minister Birmingham said.

“Our reputation abroad is in no small part because of how students see Australia as a safe and friendly place to live and study, with high-quality and welcoming campuses.”

At a special summit with ASEAN leaders in Sydney this week, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hailed the longstanding educational ties within the region.

“When it comes to … promoting greater regional security and prosperity, nothing can be more important than education and the deep personal connections that we create when we study and learn in each other's countries,” he said.

“The benefits of our education exchange go beyond economic growth figures.”

“Through personal experience, we forge the bonds of friendship and sow the seeds for future contact and collaboration between our countries.”

Watch all the #1inHalfaMillion videos here