International students in higher education and their role in the Australian economy
The scale of the Australian education export market is well above what might be expected when considering the size of our population and economy. Australia is the third most popular destination for international students, attracting nearly seven per cent of the world’s international students. Nearly 300 thousand international students will commence study in Australia in 2014, the majority of which will be in higher education. This $15 billion industry is Australia’s fourth largest export, following just iron ore, coal and gold. The economic footprint of international students, however, is much larger than just the fees they pay. International students directly facilitate domestic participation in higher education. They generate significant spillover benefits including job creation and increased tourism and are a key source of migration that can help address skill shortages as well as contribute to Australia’s long term economic prosperity. This note provides a brief overview of the size and scale of Australia’s higher education exports and their importance to the economy.