Chinese international students flee Australia

It is fair to say that China has been the primary driver of Australia’s international student boom.

Over the past six years, Chinese international student enrolments have surged by 94,000, with China accounting for 29% of total international student enrolments at Australian educational institutions:

Chinese students also account for around 40% of Australia’s $35 billion international student market, with the average Chinese student generating around $72,000 of economic activity in 2018, according to the Department of Education.

The bonanza is coming to an end, however, with new enrolments from China flatlining over the first five months of 2019 and overall student visa approvals slowing. From The Australian:

In the first five months of this year 35,825 Indian students started new courses in Australia, 48 per cent more than the previous year.

The number of students from Nepal — another strong growth market — starting new courses was 32 per cent higher.

In contrast, the number of commencing students from China, the main country driving the past six years of export growth, was unchanged in the first five months of this year…

However, the strong education export growth may not continue because of uncertainty about student numbers from India and other countries in the subcontinent where universities and other tertiary education providers are making a strong push for new students amid fears about declining standards…

Education providers recently have seen delays occurring in visa approvals.

International Education Association of Australia chief executive Phil Honeywood said there was a push for “quality over quantity” in international students, and education export revenue was likely to follow a slower growth path.

As noted above, stagnation in Chinese international student commencements is being more than offset by surging enrolments from India and Nepal.

The Department of Home Affairs’ student visa data supports this claim. Visa applications from China fell by 3.3% in the second half of 2018, but this was more than offset by a 53.5% increase in applications from India and a 47.8% increase from Nepal:

However, the outlook is less rosy for a number of reasons.

First, the average economic activity generated by Indian ($53,000) and Nepalese ($57,000) international students is lower than Chinese students ($72,000), because they tend to study at lower-cost second tier universities and vocational education and training centres. They are also more likely to live in group homes than the Chinese, thereby reducing their expenditure on rents and utilities.

Other things equal, this means that more Indian and Nepalese students are required to offset any loss of Chinese students. And the loss of Chinese students appears inevitable given growing concerns in Australia around political interference from China and the souring relationship between the two nations.

Second, as implied by Phil Honeywood above, growing concerns around university entry and teaching standards – which came to a head in May’s Four Corners report – has pressured universities to be more discerning about which international students they take and to focus more on “quality over quantity”.

Students from the Indian Sub-continent featured heavily in Four Corners’ report, and were identified as being key culprits in the decline of university education standards.

The upshot is that with Chinese student growth slowing, universities would need to further lower both entry and teaching standards in order to encourage greater student flows from India and Nepal, which seems unlikely at this point in time.

Finally, the Morrison Government’s reduction in the permanent migrant intake from 190,000 to 160,000 means there are fewer potential permanent residency places available. This lowers the probability of gaining permanent residency and reduces the incentive for international students to study in Australia.

In short, Australia’s six year international student boom is nearing its peak. Next comes the decline.

Unconventional Economist


  1. Flatlining, slowing, next comes the decline?

    What about the fleeing?

    Our education factories may need to switch to lower quality inputs but they will just crank the volume handle harder.

    Our franchise system operators demand their supply of vulnerable kids with temporary work rights.

    The poorer and more desperate they are the easier it is to pinch their wages.

  2. why people still keep calling them students – out of 700k of them 2/3 are not students but cheap workers forced to pay fees to get working visa

    • Someone told me off the other day for using Vibrants… now Students isn’t right either. What fresh hell is this? 😁

      • Don’t worry aino.

        If that happens again, tell that someone “go fuсk yourself, little buddy”, and carry on using the term “vibrants”.

  3. Wouldn’t it be funny if it were revealed that Chinese students were deserting Strayan universities because there were too many Indians 😉

    • It would be funny for the injuns. They don’t give a fck. They’re here at the University to get theirs (And it’s not an education.)

      They will gleefully lol at how deeply the local whiteys have bent over to make it all the more convenient to rape them.

      • Problem is, in order to get to that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow they need to sustain themselves for quite some time. The gubbermint will want to extract many dollars in visa application fees (student, student extension, PR visa etc) and the Unis will get their slice and then these fellows will need to find employment to keep it all going. A recession will bury many of these aspirants long before they reach the promised land.

        That’s my theory and I’m sticking to it — that or I’ll end up drinking myself to death 😉

      • Dalits? You think the piirest section of the indian population can afford a education in australia! You are a special king of retard! Just fuck off to europe already!

      • Hahaha look at this little cracker ass think he is fumny! So what is your whitetrash ass goimg to do when the asians become the majority!

      • @Dominic, don’t forget they have babies here whilst they are temporary visa holders, which helps their case of getting PR, ’cause our little Gupta is an Aussie, he was born here, we Aussies too, mate! Or, in ten years time, Little Gupta qualifies for citizenship and stays with a extended family member who has PR and gets a free education, and applies to sponsor his folks to come out here until they get their PR.

        They have all their bases covered.

      • Curry munchers will never be the majority here, the govt will reduce the intake once the smell of BO and masala becomes intolerable

        Ps. You must be a new arrival huh? No one uses the term cracker in Aust. You think you’re African American or something? Lol

      • What makes you so confident they won’t, besides i didnt say the curry mumchers become majority i said the asians become the majority. In a way we already are 15 million australians including millions of asians vs 3 billion asians on your doorstep!

      • Pretty sure East Asians would loathe to consider curries as being Asian. Anyway u need to lighten up. Here’s a joke just for you –

        Q. Why do Indian people smell?

        A. So blind people can hate them too.

      • Maybe some east asian dont like indians just like some indians dont like other asians. But thats irrelevant to the point which i made which is about you no longer being the majority.

        Maybe your are hanging with the wrong indians the indian i have been with smell great and rich! The question i want to ask you is why are australians such meth heads!

      • Are u trying to feign being Chinese now? Ok I’ll play along

        Serious question. Why do mainland chinese like to defecate on the street? With all that IP and tech they’ve stolen in recent years you’d think they would have learnt to use toilets!

        Also, here’s an interesting story – I went to a restaurant in Japan a few months ago and on the door was a sign saying “members only”. A Japanese friend asked what the sign was about and was told by staff that it was a way to stop Chinese tourists from entering! Anytime a Chinese tourist would come they simply told them “members only!” It would appear that the loathing of mainlanders (and curry munchers) is universal

      • I am neither Indian nor Chinese something that your racist pea sized brain cant seem to understand. Putting aside your little racist rant, you haven’t answered my question. What are you going to do when you are no longer the majority? Are you going to run back to your little cave in eastern Europe? (You definitely dont sound Anglo Saxon). Australia (land of the aborigines) is part of Australasia and you get used to more and more living here. If not for China and Asia you would have a living standard equal to that of eastern European countries. Now thank you new masters and go roll back into your cave.

    • Lenny Hayes for PM

      They don’t go to the same institutions/RTO’s.

      Chinese students more likely to stop coming because there are too many Chinese.

  4. I don’t know what to say:
    If you take what was a premium product (Australian university education) and you trash it by dropping standards and milking the customer for every last penny (while also containing “costs”) than you shouldn’t be at all surprised when the customers perception of the quality of your product also drops.
    Of course you can maintain the same Revenue stream for a while by dropping the price and delivering a truly second rate product but word will get out that your product is complete 5hit (at which stage it probably is)
    Not a smart way to run a business, especially not one with a hundred plus year tradition of delivering excellence.
    Hey but wtf do I know!

    • But the vice chancellors of our brainy Go8 unis say nobody could have seen this coming – so it must be true.

    • This what should happen in a ‘free market’ but as it’s distorted by the promise of PR (courtesy of Gubbermint), the quality is rendered largely irrelevant. The real students will go elsewhere but the masses (the dregs) will still come.

      After all, who doesn’t want ‘free sh1t’?

      • Yep my point is that today’s Indian and Nepalese students are are third rate students looking for a second rate education (while they earn a little working some stupid job) and naturally wait to receive their permanent residence.
        What a joke Australia has become, and it’s not simply our universities that are working hard at becoming second rate, the whole damn country is playing the same dumb meets dumber games …what a F’ing joke we’ve become ….but what’s really interesting is that most Aussies still think they’re somehow in control (captains of their own ship as it were) whereas in reality they’re the cattle being led to financial slaughter and they’re not even happy to walk these days they’re racing each other to get there first …what a F’ing joke we’ve become!

  5. Lol a drop by 3% for 1 semester and the sensational headline that chinese international student flee australia. Another daily article of doom and bashing foreign student accompanied by the usual racist comments by a bunch of old men in their mums basement whose comments are irrelevant as themselves. This website is beyond a joke!

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      That old Hummie bloke covered this…

      “And among His wonders is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the diversity of your tongues and colors. For in this, behold, there are messages indeed for all who are possessed of innate knowledge!” (Quran 30:22).

    • Poor sassy stumbled upon this site, because his Google alert was going off about Indians, but is disappointed to find how much contempt Australians have for all these New Australians, like sassy.

      • Lol i am not even indian you little faggot and i have no intention of becoming a new Australian. The australians i have met are more than happy to have international students who discount 4 or 5 other locals. If you dont like our money why are your marketers so desperate and literally begging people to join your universities.Maybe i shoud copy and paste this to the monash stalkerspace and direct the lefties students to your website and let them tear you to shreads.

      • Local students don’t like foreign students – they are a drain on resources and bring down standards and relations between students.

        Local students can see that they don’t need foreign students to prop up their studies – Universities just need to spend less on the bloat.

        Sorry, but you aren’t helping the locals out – but you can continue to delude yourself as if you are saving us poor little Australians.

      • Actually i think i have provided more economic benefit than most australians would in over a decade. Seeing that i have spent over 200k in 3 years at monash amd not spent a single day working here. Maybe you return that money and i will leave if not i do as i like! Nobody cares about your feelings. Maybe we should ban all the australian expats in singapore. They seem more happier there then here!

      • “Local students don’t like foreign students”Apparently you havent been to a australian university recently!

    • We don’t have basements in Australia, you might be looking for, this is the .au version.

      Also – most old men no longer have mothers. I know our standard of living is great in this country and our life expectancy the envy of most third worlders, but we do die eventually.

      • Anything above 40 is old and i am sure alot of the commentators are jealous little loser whining about how asians are smarter. I know we are the envy of the world anyway due to our intelligence. Also i would hardly consider australia 1st world anyway not with your crumbling infrastructure lack of industry and plummeting dollar.!

      • Go back to Quora sassy, where you can talk about how great things are everywhere but in Australia (the place you now choose to live in).

      • ask yourself this one sassy lady – you came here didn’t you? We don’t go to you. If you’re so high and mighty to be doing us a favour with all your glorious cash, why do you need to stoop down and come slum it in Australia? If you East Asian heritage is so great and you are all above us – how does an inferior Aussie education help? Or are you just here to get PR, you loathe us, but you need us?

      • Of course you did do you know how aggresively you market yourselves in singapore and overseas you have parthnerships with agencies schools companies to recruit more students. I was mislead into coming here and wasting my time and money here. Education is your 2nd biggest import if not for people like me australian universities would not exist.So dont act all high and mighty. A bunch of uneducated idiots here bashing foreign student when it is your goverment and schools who try so hard to lure students . And i am still getting all offers for masters. Maybe we should reciprocrate the same to australians and charge then 5× the fees or stop them from taking expat jovs and start discriminating against them!

    • >I know we are the envy of the world anyway due to our intelligence.

      >Seeing that i have spent over 200k in 3 years at monash
      sounds like you are clever, buying a degree are you?

      >I was mislead into coming here and wasting my time and money here.
      ok you’re way too intelligent, i have the envy bigly.

      A fool and her money are easily parted.. next time you think how clever you are, think on that $200k you pissed up the wall.

    • @Sassy. You have not had a fair hearing here. Macrobusiness comments section has it’s agenda and embedded opinions. I think many members fail to deeply consider their own positions and just love to vent frustration. On the other hand, you haven’t done your own argument any favors with the anger. I’m happy to read and consider your opinions (I won’t grace either side of this debate with the term argument) but I think you may be in the wrong place if happiness is what you seek

  6. reusachtigeMEMBER

    It’s great to see Brazil and Columbia getting up there! Their birds can be pretty damn fine.

    • The only issue with the latinas is that they think they can charge more in the parlours. We need a big influx of them to lower the market price.

      • reusachtigeMEMBER

        This is true. One of the great benefits of the mass importation of vibrants is that they help keep prices down.

  7. John Howards Bowling Coach

    Sassy, I am interested in your comment about China and India providing a higher living standard in Australia. From my research I can’t see a lot of income staying in Australia from those markets (aside from the universities which I agree are unfortunately becoming like a scam due to their willingness to sell unlimited places to student without the ability to truly pass the course). Australian’s exports to China and India are largely mining exports from mines foreign owned, so where is the huge income to Australia from that?

    Also I don’t understand why a Singaporean would be upset about Australian being negative about high inflows of Mainland Chinese (students and mature age migrants on various visa classes), because the government in Singapore actively develop policy to reduce their own migration and investment inflows from China such as the large taxes they have introduced to try to stop Mainland Chinese buying real estate in Singapore. It seems the problem Australia has is very similar to that in Singapore.