Indian student enrolments in Australia surge by 37%: The new face of international education Down Under

By Maria Irene
Photo: Canva // Image used for representational purposes only

Australia has been a favourite destination for international students for years. While Chinese students have often dominated enrolment numbers, it appears there’s a new leader in the outback. According to recent government data and academic reports, Indian students are now the rising stars in Australia’s educational constellation, showing a sharp 37% increase in enrolments this year.

The international student market is booming, poised to set new records in 2023. Approximately 855,000 people in Australia are currently on student or graduate visas, accounting for a striking one in 40 residents. While that’s certainly news to celebrate, it’s the soaring number of Indian students that really spices up the mix.

And it’s not just about numbers; it’s about economics too. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has reported unprecedented revenues from international students, totalling $21.3 billion in the first two quarters of 2023 alone. With revenues touching nearly $37 billion for the year up to June, it’s clear that students, including an increasingly large number of Indians, are making a vital contribution to the Australian economy.

But what’s driving this surge of Indian enrolments in the Land Down Under? Vinod S from the Monash University speculates that the 9% increase in student commencements since the previous peak in 2019 may be a reflection of pent-up demand released in the post-pandemic world. While Chinese enrolments have seen a 37% dip, Indian enrolments have ascended by an equivalent rate, particularly in the vocational education sector.

The upswing in student numbers has also had its ripple effects on employment and housing. Experts suggest that this demographic shift is positively impacting sectors plagued by skill shortages, such as hospitality. Yet, it’s not all rosy; the influx of international students, now led by Indians, is intensifying the housing crisis in capital cities. Critics argue, however, that to lay the blame solely at the feet of students overlooks other systemic issues, including construction constraints and a dearth of social and affordable housing.In response to this complex landscape, the government has initiated moves to tighten the student visa system, targeting dodgy migration agents and closing loopholes that offer a backdoor into the Australian workforce.

The rise of Indian students in Australia isn’t just a statistical nuance; it’s an economic and cultural phenomenon that bears both promise and challenges. The curry is certainly hot, but whether it will continue to sizzle or cool down due to regulatory changes remains to be seen. But for now, Indian students are undoubtedly adding more than just a dash of masala to Australia’s international educational stew.

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