Can Indian international students fill the hole left by China?

International student enrolment data for calendar year 2019 has been released by the Department of Education, which reveals that India has become Australia’s key growth market for education exports.

Total student enrolments from India surged another 34% in 2019 to 144,000, and have ballooned by 195% since 2013:

India was Australia’s second largest source market for international students in 2019, behind China at 261,000.

Moreover, new enrolments of Indian students also surged by 34% in 2019 at the same time as Chinese enrolments fell by 2.8% (see next chart). This suggests that total Indian enrolment numbers would grow further in 2020.

With Chinese enrolments likely to fall heavily in 2020 on the back of the coronavirus outbreak, this raises the obvious question of whether the growth in Indian students can offset the decline and loss of revenue for Australia’s education sellers?

Certainly, Australia’s education industry sees India as a market with huge potential just waiting to be tapped:

India has 850 million people under the age of 35 who need to receive an education. The sheer growth rate of the country sees one million Indians turning 18 every month…

As the Varghese report says, if Australia can maintain its growth in international students and recapture its share of Indian students from its 2009–10 peak, then direct revenue from Australian education exports to India could exceed $12bn by 2035…

India is the largest opportunity in the world for Australian universities.

In reality, there are a range of barriers in place that will cap Indian student growth.

First, the UK recently matched Australia’s two-year post study work rights, thereby making Australia a relatively less attractive study destination for Indian students (see next chart).

Indeed, the chief executive of the International Education Association of Australia, Phil Honeywood, described the UK’s decision as a “game changer” that removed one of Australia’s key competitive advantages.

Second, the Department of Home Affairs recently changed the ratings for Indian student visa applications to “high-risk”, meaning applicants now need to prove higher English-language proficiency and the capacity to support themselves financially once they arrive in Australia.

These changes are designed to improve the quality of students entering Australia, as well as to stop Indians from using education visas as a backdoor to gaining work rights and residency.

Third, the federal government’s recent reduction in Australia’s permanent migrant intake, from 190,000 to 160,000, has lowered the chances of Indian students gaining permanent residency upon completion of their studies. This, in turn, has made Australia a relatively less desirable place to study, other things equal.

Finally, as noted by professor Salvatore Babones, there are big question marks over whether Indians are wealthy enough to drive an upsurge in student enrolments in Australia:

Australian universities are so eager to demonstrate international student diversity that they have even started offering scholarships that are specifically targeted at Indian students…

The fact that they must offer scholarships in order to attract more students from India and other “non-traditional markets across Asia” underscores the reality that the number of families in the region who can afford to pay full fees for an Australian university degree is not large enough to support Australian universities’ international student enrolment ambitions…

Even if a sufficient number of financially-capable Indian international students could be recruited to diversify Australian universities’ dependence on Chinese students, recruiting them would likely require Australian universities to reach deep down into the talent pool, reducing standards still further…

Australia’s success in attracting Indian students has been built around its relatively generous working rights and permanent residency.

With these advantages now diminished, the only way to significantly boost numbers is to reach deep down the quality barrel. This is clearly undesirable and is being stymied by the Department of Home Affairs’ “high risk” rating for Indian student visa applications.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. There is more than enough Indians to overfill both the uk and Australia, and then some. If only they are allowed to come.

    • Yeah but they are povo and don’t have cash like the Chinamen. Curry munchers can’t afford the course fees.

      Their preferred route is the uber driver skills shortages visa.

    • Yes, the marketing needs to emphasise that it is simply the price of admission. Once that is clear with a heavy hint that you can be a bridgehead for lots of relatives our degree factories will be able to charge 50% more.

      • That’s the reason foreign students love Aussie unis – hard working local slaves do all the work.
        It also prepares the locals for a lifetime of co-towing to the superior Chinese and Indian peoples.

      • I am laughing at the fantastic photo selection.

        This website is so good at selecting photos.

  2. If you’ve dug yourself a hole, best keep digging. If you don’t make it to China then you might reach india.

  3. TrooDohMEMBER

    “With Chinese enrolments likely to fall heavily in 2020 on the back of the coronavirus outbreak..”

    And what happens if the virus rips through India?

    Indian enrolments could be dented for a while. I reckon China has a far greater capacity to manage a pandemic than India.

    • Actually, you’ll be amazed at the number of ailments the Indians avoid on account of all the chilli they imbibe. Maybe the corona will give them a miss.

      I’m a big advocate! Kidney stones are the unwanted side effect I’m told.

    • I’d doubt that. There’s still no evidence that any of the deaths were people who were not ethnicity Asian (yellow Asian).

        • Washington state has 7.7% ethnic Asian population. Highly probable that the 6 deaths in USA were ethnic Chinese… The only other deaths that could cast any doubt are what the hell is going on in Iran.. but nothing that comes out of that country can be trusted with any slither of truth.. not to mention the country is run by and controlled by literal imbeciles and is corrupt to its core.

  4. somehow none is willing to admit that corona is a death sentence for foreign students economy

  5. ‘We all know cow dung is very helpful. Likewise, when cow urine is sprayed, it purifies an area. I believe something similar could be done with cow urine, cow dung to cure #coronavirus: Assam BJP MLA Suman Haripriya’

    Sprayed? Aren’t they meant to drink it.
    Beware of fake cow urine drinks from the store though, its recycled.

  6. Only if Diploma of Uber Eats, Cert IV in Car Washing and Bachelor of Sexual Assault start to become mainstream courses, then sure.

  7. TBH I don’t see or hear panic in Australia…maybe a good handful of useful c c p idiots sporting a mask other than that a little mindless chit chat in the lunch room. It doesn’t really touch anyone in the real world except the real world on Tele, radio and newspaper/screen where in the midst of media hype ra $ ist white parents supposedly questioned the sanity of having an A $ Ian doctor check up their child…lots of hand face ear eye & nose prodding for children’s health check. Not to mention the CGI snot impressions of what C virA $$ could look like. I just wonder if it’s as potent as T a$$$ that took out the human race in bloody Armageddon in Re$ident Evil… Dr Evil…Shaggalicious…it’s a man baby…one MILLION dollars..movies…script …shake spear …all the worlds a stage #stan #$ hitflix

    • Fishing72MEMBER

      I met three young fit surfers in Bali who reckon they’ve had it. Sickest they’ve ever been. One bloke honestly thought he was going to die.*

      Don’t kid yourself. This thing is real. You sound like a person who doubts the existence of tides cause you’ve never been near the ocean.

      * I stayed well away and well upwind.

      • Great story. I Have also surfed in Bali & met plenty of folk who thought they were going to die from Bali Belly (that sounds raci$t) even to me however ever the locals call it that as they smile cheekily at the sufferer who lived another day to surf, lie on the beach or return to their Perth suburban mansion / Byron beach pad.
        Got my own tales of feeling like nearly dying in FNQ where I lost 5 kilos (thankfully never to return & grateful that my dear friend would bring home toilet paper & warm lemonade) same in French Alps and a dose of sinusitis/sinus infection on home turf in Victorian winter. Had a few broken bones in my day and more than my fair share of surgery.
        I know pain, vomiting, diarrhoea .
        Plenty of folk get hangovers where they feel like they are going to die.
        None of it proves corona vir A$$ or coven as they’re now calling it.
        Id be more frightened that holly wood can dream up Resident Evil get actors & finance on board then put it into production and still around a decade or so later as a cult classic. Watch it this week end. The T VIRUS now that is scarier $ hit than any thing our news and science medical services can dream up.

  8. Can Indian international students fill the hole left by China?
    Ah finally something that I can help with. I’m a bit of a local expert on using people to fill holes.
    The answer is No, absolutely no way they’ll ever manage to fill a hole with Indian International students Have you ever seen the way that they wiggle and bob their heads?
    The fricking hole would never stay filled with all that head bobbing and weaving.
    It’s really all comes down to Fundamentals, I’m surprised that an educated mob like you even needed to ask the question.

  9. Why are Indian student visa applications deemed “high-risk” but not Indian applications for other temporary visas and permanent residency?

  10. Poor Fellow My Country

    India has just fessed up to 3 new cases of coronavirus, bringing its nationwide total to 6. To which I say bullsh!t.

    Sweden has 15 cases. Why on earth would it have more than twice the number in India? Because it has a diligent, organised, honest public health system, that’s why.

    India has a population of 1.38 billion, Sweden has 10.1 million. Doing a very rough back of the envelope calculation, let’s use total value of bilateral trade as a rough proxy for degree of interaction / travel / contact between populations. Yes, most is just shipped but for every big contract there is a certain amount of business travel and expatriate employment between countries.

    Bilateral trade between China and India in 2018 was US$89.6 billion
    Bilateral trade between China and Sweden in 2018 was US$4.5 billion

    So we could expect an infection rate per capita in India to be 19.91 times that of Sweden, again using this rough heuristic.

    Sweden’s infection rate per capita as of today is 0.00001485 so India’s should be 0.000296. One problem with this is that it exceeds the per capital rate of China itself, which is just 0.0000556. So let’s just be very conservative and apply Sweden’s per capita rate of 0.0000148 to India, which would give us a total case count today in India of 20,493. I am not buying even that figure, but you see how it makes 6 looks like total and utter crap.

    India has seen what happens if you test widely for this thing – you get travel and student bans imposed and your economy gets crunched.


    – the extent to which the Indian economy is reliant on overseas remittances i.e. citizens migrating to developed countries like UK/Aus/US and living on bare bones expenses and sending excess cash back home to family

    – the absolute impossibility of having citizens self isolate, given that Indian cities contain some of most densely populated urban areas in the world (well, outside of Green Square, NSW that is)

    – the poor, overcrowded and broken public health system in India, which is one of the worst in the world (well outside of NSW Health, that is)

    there is a massive incentive not to try to figure out how rampant this thing is in India.

    If there were someone ethical, intelligent and responsible in charge in this sh!thole they would think very carefully before turning to India as a source of replacements for China. But there isn’t.

    So keep panic buying at the supermarket punters.

    • Glad you mentioned remittances.

      When you luck at Indians studying here – is it really an exporting sector for Australia, after you factor in paying back loans to pay for courses (principal plus interest) plus sending out remittances (all money taken out from the Australian economy), plus infrastructure costs per head and costs due to local unemployment increasing given generous work rights.

      I would love a detailed study on this. Mike is a good start, but someone more academic? Or can MB do an article killing off the great export myth, to go, well, viral?

    • Yep a third world shithole declaring high numbers of infection is a deathwish for their economy or more importantly the income of their crony politicians. No one wants this to affect business, so best not to report any cases.

  11. Perhaps they can offer working rights, not only for partners, but for parents of students too, to attract more Indian students?

    Partner, parent, you say tomato.

  12. Ronin8317MEMBER

    There is a simple answer : a home and student loan!! A loan that bundles an off the plan purchase of dog box apartments along with university tuition fees.

  13. The amount of racism and intellectual depth of the above comments, really bring an otherwise sensible article (and indeed website) into disrepute.
    MB really needs to ponder. If rednecks are the only audience you can attract, i see this website forever remaining on the sidelines.

    • Since this site has been covering the hyper immigration issues for nigh on 9 years, along with a lot of the commentators here whilst we all watch it get worse and worse along with our living standards, it’s not unusual for people to turn to stupid/dark humour when there is nothing you can do about it. Of course you should call us all racists because that is the standard answer for anyone questioning the policy of growing the economy by piling more people into it. Screw peoples lived experience, we need to keep piling people in so Trigobuff and Harvey can pick another billion out of peoples pockets.

    • TailorTrashMEMBER

      Perhaps somewhat understandable when rednecks are worried for their paychecks

    • OMG the raci$ist finger point. Do you do the finger pointing hand action as you say it? far more powerful.
      If you don’t like the diversity of comments that YOU have deemed racist then go away, switch off, close the page, don’t look, avert your eyes, pray….do whatever it takes not to put yourself in the position to be offended.
      I have to do this everyday:
      When I catch MSM on radio, television see a headline on a discarded newspaper.
      When I am crammed with with other diversia and vibrantia on public transport breathing into my collar to avoid the putrid stench of over crowded public transport where in trams seats have been removed to make way for standing people who are at risk of falling into the person next to the when trams brakes. I find this offensive as it is peaked mig rat ion that causes the safety issue. F
      Although I don’t live or own any of the family homes in Melbourne tree lined streets I am quietly offended each day when I see the temp fence go up the family home come down and block of ugly town houses go up to house ever growing (now potentially life threatening disease carrying ) diversia & vibrantia. Don’t mind though I keep my mouth shut cos it would be ra$h ist to say otherwise.

  14. Hey everyone, User_Syd is handing out lectures on what is appropriate and that somehow commenters determine the level of exposure for an article, irrespective of its content.

    See, no-one cares.

    Hope the approval-seeking dopamine hit was worth it.

    • Thank you Kriss Hades for proving my point.

      All, I present to you Specimen A – Kriss Hades.