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International students injected $31.9 billion into Australia's economy last financial year, directly boosting Australian jobs and wages – including in regional Australia.

The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures – released today – confirm international education income grew by $3.8 billion in the financial year to June 2018 to reach $31.9 billion.

Universities Australia Deputy Chief Executive Anne-Marie Lansdown said a record 548,000 international students were now studying in Australia, with the majority enrolled at universities.

“Our world-class universities attract students from all over the globe, bringing vast benefits to Australians and the nation,” Ms Lansdown said.

“And the buck doesn’t stop with us – that $32 billion flows on into the entire Australian economy, generating jobs, supporting wages, and lifting the living standards of Australians.”

“International education is a modern Australian success story – built from the ground up over six decades to become the nation’s third-largest export and the envy of the world.”

“Australians should be fiercely proud of this incredibly important industry. They should also be fiercely protective of it.”

In recent weeks, a new report by the British-based Centre for Global Higher Education tipped Australia will leapfrog the UK to become the world's second most popular destination for international students by 2019.

Ms Lansdown said international students are not just important to Australia’s economy, but also to our vibrant communities and our global outlook as a nation.

“Australians develop powerful personal and professional relationships, and long-lasting cultural, diplomatic and trade ties, when students from overseas spend their formative years here,” she said.

“And when international students return home from their studies – which the vast majority do – this creates a powerful network of global alumni with great affection for Australia.”

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