International education booms in southern states – Qld sector growing nicely, but can do even better

In the vicinity of my office at the Johnson on Boundary St, Spring Hill, it appears that Queensland’s international education sector is booming. During weekday lunch times, Boundary St is usually teeming with students, mostly East Asian, studying at the IES college. The cafes, convenience and food stores thrive, and the Council’s free Spring Hill loop bus to the city fills up quickly. The sector certainly appears to be booming, but, as an economist, I know I should always check the data.

The release earlier this month of Tourism Research Australia’s International Visitors Survey data for 2017 has allowed me to investigate the size of the international education boom (see the Fairfax piece More international visitors choose Brisbane for other coverage of the TRA data). As I expected, international education in Queensland experienced strong growth in 2017, with international visitors (for the reason of education) up 6.9% in Queensland and visitor nights up 4.4%. But these figures were dwarfed by the growth rates in southern states, where international education is absolutely booming, and recording double digit growth rates (e.g. see chart below).


The Queensland Government may need to revisit its grandly titled International Education and Training Strategy to Advance Queensland 2016-2026. Based on how the southern states are performing, I think we can do much better.

On the International Visitors Survey data, which are available on the TRA website, also see Pete Faulkner’s post from earlier this month:

International Visitors to Australia up 6.5%; TNQ continues to suffer down 0.4%

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