Final annual international student enrolment statistics for 2000


The Minister for Education, Training and Youth Affairs, Dr David Kemp, released final data showing the number of international students studying in Australian education institutions in 2000.

A copy of Dr Kemp's media release is available. 

The following summary gives a brief analysis of the data and provides selected details on the number of international students by country of origin and state of residence.


These selected Australian Education International (AEI) statistics are derived from the Overseas Student Statistics Collection (OSSC). The overseas student statistics in the OSSC are compiled from visa data supplied by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, and in the case of higher education data, primarily from the Higher Education Statistics Collection (HESC). They represent the number of students in the calendar year with a current visa, and, for those records drawn from the HESC, the number of students included on the HESC enrolment file for the year.

More comprehensive data from the OSSC is available in the AEI publication Overseas Student Statistics 2000.

AEI has implemented important changes to the OSSC methodology, aimed at improving the accuracy of the international student data. These enhancements include:

  • a broader measure of the number of students enrolled in institutions covered by the HESC reflecting enhancements to that Collection’s methodology from 2001 onwards. Further information on the HESC can be found at DEST’s Higher Education statistics website; and

  • an improved measure of allocating students to sectors. The number of students in each sector is now based on the type of course that the student is undertaking rather than the type of provider they are enrolled with.

As a result of these improvements, data in the OSSC have been revised for the period 19941999. Accordingly, this data supersedes international student numbers previously released by AEI. AEI plans to introduce further enhancements to the OSSC in Overseas Student Statistics 2001, with improvements to the data supplied by the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs through the introduction of Electronic Confirmation of Enrolment.

International student numbers

The number of international students enrolled with Australian education providers during 2000 was 188 277, an increase of 16 per cent over the revised 1999 figure of 162 865.

The strong growth experienced during 2000 continues the recovery experienced within the international student market during 1999. This recovery followed the contraction in student numbers resulting from the Asian economic downturn.

The presence of international students in Australia generated some $3.7 billion income for the Australian economy in 2000.

As the graph below indicates, the number of international students studying either in Australia or with Australian providers overseas has grown markedly since 1994, when just over 100 000 overseas students were enrolled in Australian courses. The graph also points to the strengthening area of offshore enrolments, which grew by 18 per cent in 2000 to 34 905.



A number of major markets for the Australian education industry recorded strong increases in student enrolments between 1999 and 2000, including China, Thailand, South Korea and Malaysia (refer Table 1).

Singapore, with 20 866 students, was Australia’s number one source country for international students during 2000, closely followed by Hong Kong with 20 739 students. Indonesia, Australia’s top ranking source country for onshore students in 1999, experienced a 7 per cent decline in overall student numbers during 2000 to 17 868.

A number of Australia’s smaller international education markets also experienced strong increases during 2000 (refer Table 2).  These markets include Colombia, Norway, Bangladesh, the Czech and Slovak Republics and Brazil.

Historically, the majority of Australia’s international students are from Asia, although there are a growing number of students being sourced from the Americas and Europe, where enrolments increased by 40 per cent and 35 per cent respectively in 2000.


New South Wales hosted the largest number of onshore international students during 2000 (57 674), followed by Victoria and Queensland (refer Table 3). Of these three states, Queensland (at 23 per cent) recorded the highest level of growth in onshore student enrolments during 2000.

While New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland held over 80 per cent of the onshore international student market during 2000, both the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory recorded the strongest growth in student enrolments of all States and Territories at 24 per cent.

The composition of international students by country varies between the states and territories. For example, while Western Australia has 11 per cent of all onshore student enrolments, it holds 17 per cent of all Indonesian onshore student enrolments (refer Table 4). Consequently, the decline in the overall number of onshore Indonesian students studying in Australia (down by 4 per cent in 2000) has contributed to the lower growth experienced in Western Australia, where overall onshore student numbers only increased by 4 per cent compared to the stronger growth in national onshore student numbers of 15 per cent.


Enrolments within the higher education sector have grown continuously since 1994, and in 2000 over 107 000 international students undertook Australian higher education courses (refer Table 5). However, the strongest sectoral growth during 2000 was in the ELICOS sector, which recorded a 26 per cent increase in enrolments to 36 767. The ELICOS sector has continued to grow in 2000 after experiencing marked declines in international student enrolments following the Asian economic downturn.

Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong continue to be Australia’s largest higher education markets (refer Table 6), with a growing emphasis on offshore enrolments. India remains Australia’s number one source country for vocational education students, although the number of Indian students undertaking vocational education courses declined by 2 per cent in 2000.

Strong growth in student enrolments from China has been driven by considerable increases in students undertaking school education and preparatory ELICOS courses. In 2000 and earlier there were no independent ELICOS visas issues to students from China. The ELICOS enrolments shown are under visas issued for other sectors that required some preparatory English language training. The school and associated preparatory ELICOS enrolments grew by 62 per cent and 131 per cent respectively in 2000. China is now Australia's number one source country for enrolments in the school education sector. 

With the exception of school education, where Victoria has a larger number of student enrolments, the number of enrolments across each sector was higher for New South Wales than in any other state or territory (refer Table 7). Notably, Queensland recorded a considerably faster rate of growth in the ELICOS sector during 2000 (at 47 per cent) compared to Victoria and New South Wales (where growth in the ELICOS sector stood at 25 per cent and 23 per cent respectively).


Table 1: Student numbers from top 10 source countries, 19982000 (pdf 5kb)

Further information

For further information on the Overseas Student Statistics collection, please contact