international education

VET makes an important contribution to the success of Australia’s third biggest export earner: international education.

In 2015, total export income from international education was $19.4b – that figure includes students studying onshore and offshore earnings from providing education related services. The onshore component is far and away the greatest slice of the action at $18.8b.

A 2015 report by Deloitte Access Economics, The value of international education to Australia (93 pages), places international education as Australia’s third highest export earner. This export revenue was estimated to support over 130,700 full time jobs in 2014-15, accounting for 1.3 per cent of Australia’s total employment – the impact varied from 1.6 per cent of jobs in Victoria to 0.4 per cent in the Northern Territory.

We can take the impact on Victoria a little further thanks to Deloitte’s analysis which shows the impact of international education on regional Victoria – a similar story probably applies elsewhere in the nation:

  • ‘for each dollar spent on goods and services by the average international student in Melbourne, $0.30 of indirect gross value added is generated in regional Victoria as a result of demand for agricultural products and other linkages’
  • ‘In total, expenditure by international students in Melbourne was estimated to contribute $888 million in indirect value added and support 5,478 FTE jobs in regional Victoria.’

VET’s contribution

The Department of Education and Training breaks down the onshore component of export earnings ($18.8b) by sector:

  • higher education (68.6%, or $12.9b)
  • VET (16.4%, or $3.1b)
  • ELICOS (5.4%, or $1.0b)
  • schools (3.9%, or $728m)
  • non-award (3.7%, or $698m).

In January, the Department provided a snapshot of ‘Transnational education in the public VET sector’, drawing on NCVER data for 2014. The snapshot indicates that in 2014:

  • 33 public institutions delivered Australian VET qualifications to offshore students
  • there were 44,833 offshore VET enrolments – down 10 per cent on 2013
  • there were 20,218 onshore VET enrolments – up 15 per cent on 2013.

It’s important to acknowledge a couple of important distinctions between international education in higher education and VET – VET programs are shorter and VET students can commence their programs at any time. The impact of the second of these variations is shown in month-by-month commencement data, depicted in this infographic for the period January-August 2016. The graph shows a spike in higher education commencements at the beginning of traditional university semesters (February and June) whereas VET commencements increase at a relatively uniform rate across the year. VET commencements account for 25 per cent of all international student commencements.

Victoria’s notable role in offshore VET delivery

Deloitte’s report indicates that Victoria’s public providers do the heavy lifting in Australia’s offshore VET delivery:

… Victoria accounted for 38,659 of the 49,740 offshore public VET enrolments in 2013, representing 78% of the total. Excluding enrolments at Victorian dual-sector providers (which would already be captured in the higher education data), Victorian providers accounted for 33,576 of the 44,657 offshore public VET enrolments nationally.

You can follow changes in Australia’s international education sector over time via the suite of Research Snapshots released intermittently by the Department of Education and Training.