Maintaining sustainable growth in Australia’s international student numbers

Steve Nerlich1

1 Director of the International Research and Analysis Unit at the Australian Government Department of Education and Training

To sustain ongoing growth in student numbers within a highly-competitive global marketplace, Australia needs to ensure it continues to deliver the services and infrastructure that international students are looking for.

This presentation will incorporate coverage of:

  • Education quality indicators

These indicators come from Australia’s biennial International Student Survey, which captures responses from over 50,000 international students studying across all of Australia’s education sectors (higher education, vocational education and training, schools and English language studies). The presentation will include preliminary data from Australia’s latest survey conducted in 2016 and compare these findings with previous years and with International Student Barometer indicators which show how student satisfaction in Australia compares with other countries. Australia is also investigating options to establish ongoing tracking of the employment outcomes of international students after they graduate and leave Australia.

  • Student accommodation

A recent census of student accommodation options indicated that approximately 40% of purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) places available in Australia are used by international students, although this still only represents around 13% of all international higher education students in Australia. Also, findings from the International Student Survey indicate a high level of satisfaction with the quality of the accommodation options available in Australia.

  • Employment

International students (in Australia and elsewhere) are increasingly seeking opportunities to gain work experience and/or paid employment while studying and after graduation. A recent survey of international student employment in Australia found that high proportions of students do gain paid or unpaid employment in Australia, including many who choose volunteering roles to enhance their employability skills. Data on uptake of post-study work visas in Australia show that interest in pursuing post-study work options after graduation is also strong.


Steve Nerlich is the Director of the International Research and Analysis Unit at the Australian Government Department of Education and Training. Steve is based in Canberra and is also a current PhD candidate at the Australian National University investigating Australian students’ offshore mobility trends.