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TEQSA statistical analysis illustrates strong, stable growth in Australia’s higher education sector

28 October 2019

The number of students enrolled in Australian higher education exceeded 1.5 million students for the first time in the nation’s history in 2017, the latest statistics report from the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency confirms. 

“With a 15% percent increase in student enrolments since 2013, TEQSA’s latest statistical analysis paints a picture of a stable and steadily growing sector, with more students enrolling in Australian higher education than ever before,” TEQSA Chief Executive Anthony McClaran said. 

The Statistics report on TEQSA-registered higher education providers 2019 is the sixth of its kind and covers the whole higher education sector including TAFE, and independent providers both not-for-profit and for-profit. The report includes 2016-2017 data, as well as trend analyses from 2013 to 2017, using information gathered by TEQSA and the Australian Department of Education. 

“TEQSA’s annual statistical reports are an important resource for understanding the whole sector, particularly in tracking known and identifying emerging trends. From TEQSA’s perspective, our statistical reports help us to assure quality, and to continue to support the sector’s growth.”

While the vast majority, 91%, of students are enrolled in universities, 2017 enrolments increased for all provider types – TAFEs, for-profit, not-for-profit and universities – a pattern which has been consistent since 2013. From 2013-2017, for-profit providers saw the largest increase in enrolments, of 46%, and not-for-profits increasing by 35%.

Of the 1.5 million students enrolled in 2017, 31% were overseas students, an increase of 10% percent from 2016 to 2017, and China and India continued to be the main source markets. From 2013-2017, the sector experienced an increase of 34% in overseas student numbers, who enrolled in all four provider types:  

  • 28% increase in overseas students attending universities
  • 80% increase in overseas students attending TAFEs
  • 85% increase in overseas students attending for-profit providers
  • 108% increase in overseas students attending not-for-profit providers

The data reports a 4% increase in academic staff from 2016-2017, with full-time academic staff constituting 64% of all staff at higher education providers. Between 2013 and 2017, the number of academic staff rose 11%.

The 2019 report provides a snapshot and time series of national statistics held by TEQSA for its quality assurance activities. This includes data from TEQSA’s National Register of Higher Education Providers, its annual Provider Information Request, as well as data from the Provider Registration and International Student Management System (PRISMS). 

Using only PRISMS data from 2015-2018, the number and proportion of overseas students from Nepal (+97%), Sri Lanka (+84%) and India (+68%) have grown at a much more rapid rate compared to other nationalities. 

Further data informing the 2019 Statistics Report may be found online.

Statistics Report 2019 Infographic 1

Statistics Report 2019 Infographic 2