Australia’s international student bubble enters Twilight Zone

Australia’s international education industry is clearly operating in a parallel universe.

Last last month, the Centre for Independent Studies released an alarming report warning that Australia’s tertiary education system has by far the highest exposure to international students in the world with a per capita intake that dwarfs other developed nations:

Australia ranks third in the world in the number of international tertiary education students, trailing only the United States and the United Kingdom…

Australia has more than twice as many international tertiary education students as eighth-ranking Canada, which has a population 50% larger than Australia’s. Measured on a per capita basis, Australia now hosts more international students than any other major country in the world.

Just when we thought the concentration of international students could not get any more extreme, the Department of Education this week released its enrolment data for the June quarter, which revealed that total international student enrolments hit a record high 712,000:

Turning to the sub-sectors, the explosion in international student enrolments has been driven by both higher education and vocational education and training (VET), whose enrolments have surged by 92% and 113% respectively over the past six years:

The three major sources of international students are all non-English speaking nations, namely China (204,000), India (104,000) and Nepal (52,000). Growth has been extreme for each nation, with Chinese enrolments growing by 96% over the past six years, Indian enrolments growing by 198% over the same period, and Nepalese enrolments ballooning by 428%:

As expected, New South Wales and Victoria dominate Australia’s international student trade, together accounting for 71% of Australia’s enrolments. As shown in the next chart, there were 272,000 international students enrolled in New South Wales as at June 2019 and 232,000 in Victoria:

Both jurisdictions have also experienced explosive growth in international student enrolments of 94% (NSW) and 108% (VIC) over the past six years.

The composition of students differs, however, with New South Wales’ boom driven by both China (78,000) and Nepal (34,000), whose enrolments have surged by 37,000 and 28,000 respectively over the past six years:

By contrast, Victoria’s international student boom has been driven mostly by China (70,000) and India (49,000), whose enrolments have surged by 38,000 and 32,000 respectively over the past six years:

Whichever way you cut it, Australia’s international student boom is unprecedented and world-leading. It also looks like a bubble, given it has been built upon eroded tertiary entry and teaching standards, which are now under the spotlight.

Unconventional Economist


  1. It is fascinating to watch a nation attempt to transform itself into a postmodern mental construct. Traditional anchors of human life cast aside like family, community, ancestry, religion, land, sex, even the notion that a job is some meaningful form of identity is going out the window. All we are left with is a bunch of people who don’t know who they are, why they are here or what they should stand for except to continue to undermine any form of identity that isn’t dependent on the state, which can’t be erased.

    • Are we reaching a point where we will question why “Australia” exists? What is our purpose? Why are we not a state of another country? Why do we continue to exist?

      Perhaps we need a return to the existential thinking of the early 20th Century Australia – what does Australia look like? What do we want for those that live in Australia? To we want to be fair, egalitarian, driven by greed, do we even want a welfare state anymore, do we want equity, a share in the natural wealth, do we want to be a small or big Australia? Is home ownership important? Do we want to make and sell things? Do we want to be self-reliant or reliant on other countries only? What do we want our overarching values to be (or do we even want to have overarching values)?

    • “Traditional anchors of human life cast aside like family, community, ancestry, religion, land, sex, even the notion that a job is some meaningful form of identity is going out the window.”

      Only in western, white countries. We may have 25% of our nation born overseas.

      But not China,
      Not Japan
      Not Egypt
      Not Turkey
      Not Nigeria
      Not Brazil

      They don’t have to cast anything aside, hell, they can come to these western white countries, and when these traditions conflict, they still don’t have to cast anything aside.

      But there’s no war on their ethnicity either…

      “All we are left with is a bunch of people who don’t know who they are, why they are here or what they should stand for except to continue to undermine any form of identity that isn’t dependent on the state”

      We’re told that a man is a dress is not mentally ill, but a women, and a woman who can tell real women what it means to be a woman, and there are repercussions if you don’t conform.

      Free speech is paramount, in a real and sane society, it holds a higher virtue than anything else. If you have a choice between ‘free speech and banning it in the name of ‘hate speech’, then that country must allow ‘hate speech’. Quite simply, some things are hate-able.

      If you don’t allow free speech, eventually you can be told lies and forced to accept them, Now our western societies are now acknowledging trannies, instead of putting them in a mental hospital giving them the treatment they need. But we started accepting lies a long time ago.

      Once you accept a lie, it becomes easier to accept the next lie.

  2. I used to be very proud of my Australian degrees – now, if anyone asks, I feel obliged to refer to the fact that I got mine years ago when (some of) our universities were globally recognised for their academic performance and substantive original research … now, it’s just embarrassing …

  3. So in fact there’s no evidence yet that international student numbers are going down anywhere chez Oz? Just the growth rate of the Chinese front is slowing?

    • Also who made the ‘by state’ graph? Canberra/ACT has 43% international at the ANU alone which is 10,000. With four other unis in town, including UCan, plus TAFE, private colleges and students in our high schools, we must have at least 20,000 international students here.

  4. We are now well known for having easy degrees, where the Aussies do the group assignments and tutoring, it’s easy to get a gig and a bed and there’s even an easy road to permanent residency

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      It’s all about the Pathway to permanent residency for the majority of these student visa holders.

      That this is not acknowledged by our establishment Media and political class shows just how much contempt they have for genuine democratic debate and Accountabilitity.

      Look at the way ONE Tamil family, (probably deserving of being allowed to stay in my view), being deported, has become one huge political and media circus that is presently consuming almost the entire “debate” around the number of right to work foreign visa holders and Migration numbers into Australia.

      Real Democracy means being able to set the Agendas that are to be voted on.

      • The media loves personal stories, they are easy to understand.
        As Stalin said: “A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is just a statistic”.

      • Out of interest, why do you think the Biloela family should stay?

        For what they paid the boat people, they could have studied here and then parlay that into a PR.

        Why did they have children here despite being told they weren’t asylum seekers? Gaming the system perhaps?

        Plus the mother isn’t a picture of health.

        We need to overhaul our asylum process – less entertainment of bogus claims, and more speeding up of genuine claims. Perhaps, with the money we save by not entertaining bogus claims, we could even afford to extend our humanitarian numbers?

  5. 712,000 foreign students & partners.

    615,000 primary
    58,000 ‘partners’ on secondary visas
    39,000 DFAT & special visas / scholarships.

    Most third world
    Long stay / pseudo permanent stay (up to 9 years with COE & visa churn until they finally snag a PR or re-enter via the NZ SCV loophole.
    Not young
    Not skilled
    The vast majority doing very low level fake or nonsense ‘education’ that is available free online or in their home country much cheaper.
    They aren’t here to learn.
    They are third world slum and rural poor trafficked in on a visa alibi. By commissioned agents & foreign criminal syndicates.

    They are trafficked in to steal Australia jobs, occupy Australia housing, to repay their agent procurer, to send back remittances, to secure a PR & be an anchor for chain migration.
    Not exploited.
    Willing participants, paid bribes to get in on this racket.

    Not progressing into high value human capital – a progression rate of only 3.6% into a high value or high income professional vocation here or in their home country (Migrant Pathways A Decade On Report & the Productivity Commission Report)

    That’s right – 96% fail to be anything other than a low income illegal migrant guestworkers or a welfare burden once given a PR..

    Occupying some 150,000 ex Australian modest dwellings in fetid criminal run cash in hand bunk slum share.

    The epi-centre of vice and crime.
    Asians – tens of thousands of of end of life Asian sex Workers trafficked in as vice is a ‘legal occupation’ for a foreign student – Fake ID, all cash & no tax paid.
    Their pimps as their ‘partners’

    The Indians, Nepalese, Bangladeshi, others – the epi-centre of blackmarket labor rings & cash in hand on third world wages.

    Their entire fees?
    $8.3 billion, paid from money earned here.
    Source Deloitte.

    75% work illegally. (Sydney Uni & UTS studies.)

    712,000 foreign students * 75% = 534,000 Australian jobs stolen.

    534,000 Australians unemployed that cost $9.3 billion Australian taxpayer funded unemployment.

    So just the Australian taxpayer cost in Australian unemployment impact caused by the foreign student is MORE than their fees paid. Fees paid from their money earned illegally here.

    Not ‘an export’ at all.
    The most socially and economically destructive pretext ‘foreign student’ pretext migrant guestworker racket in the OECD or in any other country either.