Higher education in 2021 – interesting domestic and international student shifts
Last week the long awaited Higher Education Statistics – 2021 Student data was released by the Department of Education.
Of particular interest is the number of international students studying offshore with Australian universities and other higher education providers in 2021, as well as the changing enrolment patterns of international students during the pandemic (see below), but there were also interesting changes in domestic enrolments between 2019 and 2021. While the average growth in domestic student enrolments over the three years was 7%, some institutions did much better in growing their domestic student cohort.
The table below shows all those institutions experiencing at least double digit growth, note the very strong growth in domestic enrolments at non-university higher education providers in Victoria and the ACT, as well as at Torrens and Bond Universities. Amongst the Table A universities – Charles Darwin University saw a 23 per cent increase in domestic enrolments, and the University of the Sunshine Coast and Victoria University also saw more than double the percentage increase in overall domestic enrolments.
Selected domestic student enrolments (2019 – 2021)
Turning to the international student data, the shifts in enrolments at some universities during the pandemic were profound. Unsurprisingly there was a decline (-36%) in onshore enrolments between 2019 and 2021.
All institutions, except Charles Darwin University (+4%), experienced a decline but there were significant differences in how big the drop in onshore enrolments was by institution.
Onshore international student enrolments (2019 – 2021)
There were also very significant differences by institution in relation to the changes in their offshore international student enrolment patterns between 2019 and 2021.
All institutions increased the proportion of their international students studying offshore. Many universities with offshore campuses were able to increase the share of their international students they educated there (eg the University of Wollongong, RMIT, James Cook University, etc). Others which had only a small offshore presence prior to the pandemic, eg the University of Sydney, were able to significantly lift the share of their international students studying offshore.
Offshore enrolments as a proportion of all international students (2019, 2021)
The raw numbers of offshore student enrolments and the percentage increase between 2019 and 2021 provide more detailed insights into the activities of different institutions.
The 4,361% increase for the University of Sydney (as they lifted their offshore student enrolments from 503 in 2019 to 22,437 in 2021) was the largest increase in offshore students in the period, but many other universities and higher education providers saw similarly large increases in offshore students. Somewhat surprisingly there were also a number of institutions unable to grow (or which chose not to grow) their offshore enrolments during this period. Their offshore students increased as a proportion of their total international student numbers but did not in fact increase in absolute numbers.
Offshore enrolments (2019 – 2021)