In the 2019 calendar year, international student arrivals hit a record high 620,000 according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, up from 380,000 in 2014:
Total international student enrolments across Australia’s various educational institutions also hit a record high 957,000, according to the Department of Education:
The biggest driver of this growth were Australia’s universities (‘higher education’), where international student enrolments ballooned to a record high 442,000 in 2019:
As reported by professor Salvatore Babones last year, Australia in 2017 had by far the highest concentration of international students at its universities in the developed world at roughly 2.5 times second place United Kingdom and three times third-placed Canada:
Moreover, 27% of total enrolments at Australia’s universities in 2017 were international students:
Thus, given the extreme growth experienced in the two years to 2019, Australia’s concentration of international students has likely grown even further, likely nearing 30% of total enrolments.
With this background in mind, it is rather galling to hear the universities warn that there will not be enough places available in the future for domestic students:
Australia’s university system is not equipped for an approaching baby boom…
By 2025, 40,000 more people will be reaching university age every year and 60,000 more by 2030.
Australian National University vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt said on Thursday the country would need to add “five ANUs or two UNSWs” to keep up with surging demand, which will start to hit in 2023.
“Higher education policy doesn’t necessarily lose you elections but I think it has the potential to if, for example, people who think they are going to university en masse are suddenly not able to,” Professor Schmidt told an audience at the Universities Australia conference…
ANU higher education researcher Andrew Norton said domestic university participation rates could rapidly drop from a bit over 40 per cent to the mid-30s if the system did not adapt to the impending baby boom.
“What that is going to mean is that people who have done relatively well [in school] will find they receive no offers whatsoever of a university place,” he said…
Catriona Jackson, chief executive of Universities Australia, said there was “some flexibility” to increase capacity in existing institutions but more education opportunities were needed, especially with jobs of the future requiring a university education.
With a record 442,000 university places taken up by international students in 2019, there should be more than enough spaces available to satisfy future domestic demand.
Heck, even if international student enrolments only retraced to 2013 levels, there would be an additional 210,000 places made available for domestic students.
In any event, far too many young Australians attend university anyway and the nation would be better served by more studying a trade or attending TAFE.
Having university participation rates fall to the mid-30s from over 40% would be a good result.
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