Education added over $29 billion to the economy in 2022, with international students in Australia contributing $25.5 billion and students studying online* adding a further $3.5 billion.
Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said the sector’s ongoing recovery was boosting Australia’s economic position in a tough fiscal landscape.
“International education’s strong rebound is an economic winner for Australia,” Ms Jackson said.
“Education is our largest services export and the biggest product we don’t source from the ground.
“The export income our universities help generate pays for essential services and underpins a higher standard of living for all Australians, regardless of where they live.
“Covid-19 halved the value of education as an export, but we are well on our way back to reaching, and hopefully surpassing, the $40 billion mark we recorded in 2019.
“Numbers aside, the powerful and far-reaching contributions students from over 144 countries make when they come to Australia enriches our social and cultural fabric. We need more of this.
“International education not only supports the economy, it helps Australia make important friends.
“In the last month alone, nearly 80,000 students have come to Australia – more than double the number who arrived in the same period last year.
“We have work to do, but the progress to date is good for universities, Australia and the economy more broadly.”
Ms Jackson praised the adaptability of Australia’s universities as they continued to educate students who remained offshore.
The delivery of online learning has grown the economy by nearly $12 billion over the last three years, in addition to the income generated by students on the ground.
“Like many parts of our economy, international education has faced a challenging couple of years – with travel restrictions and border closures plunging students and universities into periods of real uncertainty,” Ms Jackson said.
“Universities swiftly responded to ensure that students abroad had online access to the world-class education they chose to pursue with an Australian university. This has clearly paid off.”
*The data includes education exports by correspondence – which is the fees paid to Australian institutions by students studying online in their home country.