The theme for the 35th Australian International Education Conference (AIEC) held on the Gold Coast this year was Beyond Borders. It’s strange to think that last year, the borders between Australian states were closed, but now Australia is open for business, and the good news is that international students are returning to our shores.
At the AIEC, IDP Education released welcoming data from its Emerging Futures research. After surveying more than 11,000 prospective students, applicants and current students, the data showed Australia had moved into second place at 25%, behind Canada at 27%, as the most attractive global study destination. This is a 5% rise for Australia since the last survey six months earlier, in March 2022.
Andrew Wharton, client director with IDP Connect, said, ‘What is driving the increasing propensity to choose Australia since the previous survey we (ran) in March, is because it is a safe, welcoming, supportive country for international students.’
IDP Education reported, ‘Sixty-two per cent of respondents stated that Australia was their first-choice destination because it was a “safe country for international students”, an increase of 12 percentage points from March 2022.’ They also stated, ‘Overall, current students were positive about their study experiences in Australia, with 92 per cent saying that the academic support they had received from their institution had met or exceeded their expectations, and 87 per cent saying the lifestyle had met or exceeded their expectations.’
Mr Wharton said, ‘As we welcome students back, the opportunity for the Australian sector is to listen to what students want, which is clear career pathways and job opportunities during their studies, and to make sure their expectations are met when they arrive.’
Simon Emmett, CEO of IDP Connect, said, ‘With open borders and attractive post-study work policies, destinations are going head-to-head to attract international students. However, at the same time, many countries are facing socioeconomic instability, and students are navigating new emerging challenges.’
The Department of Home Affairs informed education providers that approximately 42,700 student visa applications had been lodged in June. They said, ‘This is the largest number of offshore applications received in a single month in the last 10 years.’ In June 2019, pre-COVID, 34,015 student visa applications were received.
International Education Association of Australia CEO Phil Honeywood said, ‘This latest data proves there is still a strong appetite to study in Australia.’
The Department of Home Affairs reported, ‘The Department is receiving on average 10,000 offshore applications globally each week.’ And they explained that they are ‘working to process offshore visa applications as a priority. In May and June 2022, nearly 56,000 offshore applications were finalised.’
The Albanese Government is working hard to entice more international students to study in Australia. They are uncapping the number of hours international students can work while studying for another year, allowing post-study work visas to be extended by two years for ‘skills shortage’ courses, and increasing the permanent Migration Program planning level to 195,000 in 2022-23.
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