Navigating Quality and Quantity for Sustainable Growth in Australia

Navigating Quality and Quantity for Sustainable Growth in Australia

Mon Nov 06 2023 Effa Iqbal

Short on time? Here are the Highlights

  • Australia could witness a 3.7% annual growth in international student numbers, adding 220,000 students by 2030, contingent on proposed policy changes.
  • The Group of Eight (Go8) universities are increasing their share of international students, shaping market dynamics.
  • Leveraging existing connections within African diaspora communities in Australia offers a promising opportunity for tapping into new student networks from countries like Nigeria.

Australia’s international student growth projections and potential implications for the education sector.

Australia’s international student numbers are projected to grow, and the scenarios surrounding this growth present both opportunities and challenges for the country’s universities.

Quantity vs. Quality Dilemma

Balancing the focus on quantity with a commitment to maintaining high-quality education.

In the face of increasing international student enrollment, policymakers and universities are grappling with the dilemma of maintaining quality education while seeking growth.

Suppose Australia’s international student numbers grow in line with existing market shares. In that case, it will see a 3.7% annual increase, resulting in 220,000 more students in the country by 2030, according to a new analysis.

In a presentation showcased at the AIEC conference by Navitas’s Jon Chew and Ethan Fogarty, three scenarios regarding the future of global student flow and potential policy changes were discussed.

Policy Changes and Their Impact

Analyzing the suggested policy changes and how they may affect future growth rates.

Australia’s government has recommended a series of policy changes, and adopting these recommendations could lead to continued growth, though possibly at a slower rate.

Navitas has suggested that if the authorities implement the proposed changes, “continued growth is likely, albeit slower.”

The analysis indicates that if international student numbers grow at 3.7% per year while domestic student numbers grow at 1.8% per year, the global share of students will continue to rise, potentially leading to more diverse and internationalized university populations.

Competitive Dynamics

Exploring the competitive landscape and its potential impact on market share.

Competitive dynamics among universities and the influence of the Group of Eight (Go8) on market share.

Go8’s Growing Share

The Go8 in Australia has seen an increase in the share of international students since the pandemic, from at least 32% to 38%.

Even in 2010, during the economic downturn, its shares increased from 26% to 28%.

This indicates that Go8 universities have successfully attracted international students, potentially at the expense of other institutions.

Possible Shift in Student Nationality

Questions are arising about whether India might overtake China as the leading international student nationality in Australia.

While global projections suggest that India may not surpass China in terms of outbound student flows, its size, and expected growth still make it a dominant market for Australian universities, and this may have implications for the composition of international students at different institutions.

While Navitas forecasts growth in student share for most African countries, Nigeria is expected to be the standout performer, as is often the case for English-speaking destinations.

However, Australia’s current low market share in Africa, at around 1.5%, presents challenges despite significant growth opportunities.

Universities in Australia


Australia stands at a crossroads as it contemplates balancing quantity and quality in international student growth.

Projections indicate a 3.7% annual increase in international student numbers, contingent on policy changes and competitive dynamics.

Implementing recommended policies promises continued but measured growth, possibly resulting in diverse, internationalized campuses.

The competitive landscape, with the Group of Eight (Go8) universities increasing their market share, introduces further complexity.

The potential shift from China to India as the leading source of international students adds intrigue. Exploring opportunities in Africa, notably Nigeria, and leveraging existing diaspora connections offer promising avenues for growth.


How will proposed policy changes impact international student growth in Australia?

Answer: Proposed policy changes are likely to sustain growth but at a more controlled rate, emphasizing quality over quantity.

What challenges might arise from uneven international student growth?

Answer: Uneven growth could result in some universities having predominantly international student populations, impacting campus dynamics.

Can Australia maintain its market share of international students against competition from India?

Answer: While India may not surpass China, its significant growth ensures it remains a dominant market for Australian institutions.



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