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Ray Fleming's take on what's interesting in Education IT in Australia

Education is still Australia’s biggest services export

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Education is still Australia’s biggest services export

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According to the latest data on international trade from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, education services are still Australia’s largest services export, with a $15bn revenue in 2012. Whilst this is $3bn ahead of the next largest export (personal travel services), it’s still a big drop from the $17.6bn high of 2009. In fact, it’s the third year of falling revenue from international students.

Which means that Australian universities and TAFEs are still losing their highest value customers (an international student pays fees up to 5x the level of local students). Universities account for 75% of the revenue, with TAFEs taking 20% and schools accounting for the remainder. This is all neatly summarised in the one-pager from Australian Education International “Export income to Australia from international education activity in 2012”.

But it was only when I charted the detailed data from the ABS on Table 11.1 that I saw the deeper picture – that the biggest drop has been in vocational training, where there’s been a drop of nearly 50% over the last three years. Higher Education has seen a decline of nearly $0.5bn since the peak of 2010, but that’s less than 5% of their total. Whereas TAFE has lost over $2bn, 43% of their revenue since the peak of 2009.

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And although they don’t appear to break out the data by country and sector, India is the place where we’ve lost most students, with an almost 60% drop in revenue from Indian students since 2009 (from Table 9.4) – which is presumably mainly TAFE students.

International Education Revenue by Country

2009

2010

2011

2012

Change
2009-12

China

$3.9bn

$4.2bn

$4.1bn

$4.0bn

+3%

India

$3.0bn

$2.5bn

$1.6bn

$1.3bn

-57%

Vietnam

$0.7bn

$.8bn

$0.8bn

$0.8bn

+12%

Republic of Korea

$1.1bn

$1.0bn

$.9bn

$0.8bn

-29%

I’ve now got a better understanding of some more of the reasons why TAFEs have been talking with us about student recruitment, student retention and business development systems – all areas addressed by CRM in education

  • I'm starting to see a boost in VET interest from China & Italy

  • That's interesting John, as the big drop off in internal students 3 or 4 years ago was mainly in VET, and mainly from India and China, so if there's growth coming from China it will hopefully balance off the losses (from memory, around $3bn a year of revenue was lost from the drop off in international VET students)

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