According to IDP Australia, as reported in The Australian, “the number of international students wanting to study in Australia will almost double in the next two decades, but universities will not be able to meet the demand”. IDP predicts that almost 300,000 international students will want to study a higher education course in Australia by 2025. China and India will largely fuel this growth. IDP is concerned however about Australia’s capacity to meet this growing demand. Some Australian universities, in some disciplines like computer science, engineering and business studies, are already at a breaking point with overcrowded classes, declining teacher-student ratios and inadequate support for international students. Something radical will clearly need to be done. Two options suggest themselves: either put a ceiling on growth or build new infrastructure to meet the demand.
The growth trends and economic significance of Australian education exports can be tracked in a number of sources and websites, especially those associated with IDP Australia, Australian Education International (AEI), and the OECD’s Directorate for Education, especially its annual report, Education at a Glance 2007: OECD Indicators, which was the source for the graphic below.