And expansion in numbers is matched by student satisfaction that matches or exceeds past levels.

In 2016, 554,179 full-fee paying international students enrolled with Australian education providers. The VET sector accounted for 187,110 enrolments – an increase of 11.6 per cent on 2015. This pace of expansion confirms the steady growth trajectory VET has been on for a number of years. VET’s performance makes a substantial contribution to national income from international education, which was reported as  $20 billion in 2015-2016.  (There is a detailed explanation of how Australia derives revenue from this source in the report The value of international education to Australia, released by the Australian government in April 2016.)

This good news for VET is contained in the December 2016 summary of international student enrolment data released by the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training. Taking education as a whole – higher education, ELICOS, VET, and schools – every state and territory except the NT recorded growth in enrolments. The ACT was way out in front with growth of 15.4 per cent, followed by Victoria with 12.0 per cent and NSW with 9.6 per cent.

International students are satisfied with their Australian study experience

The Department has also released results of the 2016 International Student Survey, to which more than 65,000 students responded. Of international VET students who responded, more than 90 per cent said they were satisfied with teaching and learning support strategies.

Across all education sectors, Australia is holding its own regarding satisfaction with learning – 87.4 per cent of survey respondents were satisfied compared with 87.3 per cent of post-secondary students who study in other countries.

Where are our international students studying?

There are interesting maps on the Department’s website that provide texture to our understanding of international education in Australia.

The first of these is a map showing student location – you can break down this information by student nationality and sector. So, for example, you can get a picture of the number of Indonesian students who are enrolled with particular VET providers based in Sydney.

A second map, or data visualisation, takes you on a fascinating world tour, showing where international students come from and what they enrol in. So to follow Indonesia again, the data visualisation indicates that of 19,731 enrolments in 2016, some 8,540 (or about 43 per cent) were enrolled in VET. Of those enrolled in VET, most were enrolled in Diploma qualifications. Management and commerce qualifications were far and away the most popular study choice, with 6,184 enrolments.

(The number of enrolments from Indonesia is low given our proximity and Indonesia’s population of 250 million. There’s great scope for Australian VET providers to increase the number of Indonesians studying in Australia.)