Scenarios for Western Australia’s International Education Sector

Projections to 2022
AuthorsAlan Duncan, Daniel Kiely, Kenneth Leong, Richard Seymour
PublishedOctober 2017
PublisherBankwest Curtin Economics Centre
Number of Pages40

International education is a key sector for the Australian and Western Australian economies. It is now the country’s principal services export and our third largest export industry overall. It has been identified in many government and other studies as an industry with strong growth potential.

While Western Australia continues to see growth in international student enrolments, the States’ share of overall international enrolments to Australia has continued to decline to 2016. Year-to-date enrolments in 2017 suggest a further deterioration in market share for WA.

In November 2016, BCEC together with JCIPP and funding partners released a report analysing the performance and prospects for WA’s international education sector. For that report, BCEC developed a model to project student enrolments into WA under various scenarios. These enrolment projections can then be used to estimate the impact on the revenue, value added and employment generated by the sector under such scenarios.

On the back of this, StudyPerth approached BCEC to project the potential impact of a change to the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) on international student enrolments. As noted in our report last year, the factors influencing international student enrolments are complex and any changes to enrolments could be due to may ‘push and pull’ factors, such as wealth effects (home and host country), costs of living, and student accommodation, unemployment rates, fee structures, and rankings of institutions, as well as visa changes and student experience, amongst others.

Here we use 2017 year-to-date enrolment and commencement data to project the potential impact of recent policy changes (that is a movement away from the Baseline ‘business as usual’ projection) on enrolments, revenue, value added and employment. Given that the full effect of this visa change is unlikely to fully impact on the system for a number of years, we project to 2022.

In addition, given the short time lag between the implementation of the visa policy change (March, 2017) and the writing of this report, we also project a Lower Bound scenario, which uses historically low growth rates to forecast a potential lower bound negative impact of such policy shocks to the sector.