The latest trade figures reveal that income from education grew by an impressive 17 per cent on 2015.
This is the strongest annual growth since 2010.
The education of international students is Australia’s third largest export, behind only iron ore and coal.
Universities Australia Chief Executive Belinda Robinson said Australia’s global outlook and excellent reputation for the quality of education and research in our universities were key factors in the growth.
“The outstanding education that our universities provide to some of the best and brightest students from right around the world is a vital part of Australia’s economy,” she said.
“Australia is a beacon for international students because they know they’ll get a world-class education, global alumni networks, a great student experience and lifelong ties and friendships with Australia.
“This is such a crucial sector to Australia’s future in so many ways – well beyond the export income that supports Australian jobs and wages.
“The experience of international students during their university years in Australia also creates powerful personal, cultural, diplomatic and trade ties between Australia and the rest of the world.”
The total value to Australia of international education exports could be even higher than the latest $21.8 billion figure, which does not include education consultancy services, royalties from intellectual property or income from correspondence courses.
The latest data comes in the same week as Australian universities featured strongly in the latest Times Higher Education rankings of the world’s ‘most international’ universities.