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Plan to grow South Australia’s $1.2 billion international student sector

Friday, 02 September 2016

Traveling from all over the world to study in South Australia, the state’s 32,000 incoming students spend a massive $1.2 billion on education, accommodation, food, goods and services, a report by Deloitte Access Economics (DAE) shows.

Releasing the Deloitte International Education in South Australia report today, together with the final version of South Australia’s International Education Action Plan, Minister for Investment and Trade Martin Hamilton-Smith said that in 2015, each of the state’s 32,100 inbound students studying in local schools, universities and in vocational education institutions, contributed on average $29,600 to the state economy.

The DAE report estimates that in 2015, international students made a $950 million value added contribution and created 7500 FTE jobs. In another positive spinoff, the report says that in 2015 students’ visiting friends and relatives spent an additional 28,800 visitor nights and $6 million.

Increasing existing numbers is one of the key aims of the International Education Action Plan. It sets a goal of increasing the number of international students studying in South Australia to 35,500 by the end of 2017. Among the 10 Actions: Establishing an International Education Ministerial Advisory Council and International Education Office; set up an Export Internship Program and provide an Accommodation Offer Guarantee.

The plan has been the subject of extensive two-month consultation with all sectors of the international student market.


The DAE report found that on average each higher education enrolment in SA contributes $43,700 to the economy; with each school enrolment contributing $33,200; VET enrolments each contribute $16,600 and each English Language Intensive Course student contributing $6000.

Quotes attributable to Investment and Trade Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith

International education deserves its position as a key economic priority. The contribution of international students extends beyond the purely financial benefits of expenditure on education, but also has indirect benefits with spend in retail, accommodation and tourism.

We have plenty of opportunities to play to our strengths, including price of education, cost of living, and a large stock of purpose built student accommodation compared to other cities. In this space we are second only to Canberra. However, the report suggests other options are needed to support growth in sub-sectors. The Deloitte report highlights that there is clear potential for future growth driven by strong global demand for international education and growth in per capita income and the global urban 15-29 year old population.

The top five source markets are China, India, Hong Kong and Malaysia, however the fastest growing markets are expected to be Oman, Italy, Taiwan, Kenya and Nepal, the Deloitte report says. The sector faces exciting times ahead.