Appl Ex 8h

Application Exercise 8h: The rise of Australian education as an export 

1.        Examine the chart above showing Education Exports by Australia. Describe the trend in these exports for China and India for the last ten years.

Over the last ten years (since 2009 in the chart), exports of education to both China and India have trended strongly upward. The Chinese market grew from just over $4 billion in value to just over $12 billion in value over that period. The Indian market grew from just under $4 billion in value to close to $7 billion in value in the same period.

2.                Using the chart, describe how Nepal is an increasingly important export partner in Australian education.

While Nepal’s contribution to Australia’s export market for education is not as great as either China’s or India’s, it is the growing the most rapidly of all export markets for education. The value of the market has multiplied six-fold between 2011 and 2019, from around $0.5 billion to $3 billion in value.  


  1. Explain the significance of the export of education for the Australian economy.

Education was Australia’s fourth largest export industry prior to COVID-19. It brought in $40 billion a year, including $17 billion in tuition fees and $23 billion in international students’ living expenses while they studied in Australia. Australia was at that stage the second most popular destination for international students in the world.


4.      Explain what is meant by the risk of Australia being too heavily ‘exposed’ to international students.


Many universities have become reliant on international students for much of their funding.  For example, 43% of commencing students at Australian National University (ANU) were from overseas, and 60% of those were from China. International students at G8 universities on average pay $40,000 per year for their tuition, and as such have been an enormous source of revenue for universities that have faced declining government funding in recent years. One analysis in 2019 suggested the G8 universities earned more from Chinese students than they did from the Commonwealth government grants scheme which supported the teaching of domestic students.


5.      Create a T-chart outlining the risks vs the rewards or costs and benefits for Australia of the rapid growth of Chinese international student education. Compare your responses with those of a classmate.

Possible risks

Possible rewards


Loss of income when students return home

Source of income for universities

Issue of students leaving if/when Chinese economy weakens

Revenue for related industries like rental accommodation, food sales etc

Loss of study places for domestic students

Increase in available skilled workers when studies are completed (if students stay in Australia)

Treating international students like a ‘cash cow’ (just a source of income with little concern for their welfare)

Diversity of the student population – differing perspectives

International students becoming isolated by a lack of language proficiency and socialising only with other international students from the same background


Places are uncapped – so universities (with a vested interest) decide on the number of places


6.      Outline how this case study of international education provides an insight into the potential advantages and disadvantages of Australia’s reliance of China as its largest trading partner.

Australia has become increasingly dependent for its international student population on China – and is also highly (or increasingly) dependent on China as an export destination other export industries – such as commodities, but also wine, barley and lobsters – all of which have been subject to Chinese import bans in recent years, creating problems for Australian industries and the Australian economy.


7.      Explain the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education exports from Australia. Discuss whether this presents a risk to the Australian economy going forward.

International students were not eligible for any of the pandemic-related support payments available to others who had lost their means of support (namely the JobSeeker supplement and JobKeeper). The government also closed the international borders. Consequently, education exports declined sharply in the March 2020 quarter.

Some universities were able to provide flexible (example online) study options, but because of lack of financial support, some students had to return to their country of origin. If those students don’t return now that borders are re-opened, this sector may struggle into the future. Evidence so far is that not all those students who left have returned to Australia to study.