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Another year has come and gone. As we monitored our internal IDP dashboards and datasets, thousands of students were criss-crossing the globe looking to achieve their international education dreams. Through our rolling, updated IQ Demand+ platform, as well as our Emerging Futures 3 and Emerging Futures 4 survey reports, we were able to track student interest and demand, and pinpoint the trends currently influencing international education and what this could mean for the future trajectory of our sector.

Here are our picks of the top 10 data insights from 2023. 

1. Vietnam, Indonesia and Turkey have seen the biggest growth of demand for Australia in 2023 

From January - December 2023, we saw considerable change in the share of source market demand for Australia. According to IQ Demand+, Vietnam saw the greatest uptick in demand over 2023, starting from just over 6% share of demand in January, to 11% in December -a considerable growth was achieved. Indonesia saw the second highest growth, from 10.8% in January to 12.3% in December. Surprisingly, Turkey had the third highest growth, from 2.6% to 3.7%, indicating geographical factors and proximity aren't always crucial in decision making. 

2. There is strong competition between Australia and Canada to attract students from Nepal

Between January and December 2023, Australia and Canada had close shares of destination demand from Nepalese students. This was particularly evident in June when destination demand for Australia and Canada was 35.4% and 34.7%, respectively, and in September when Canada had a 29.4% share and overtook Australia, which had a 28.4% share. As of December 2023, Australia has returned to the top spot at 29.8%, while Canada is back at second with 26.4%.  

3. Vietnam has become a booming source market for VET demand since January 2023 

IQ Demand+ data showed a booming demand amongst prospective Vietnamese students for VET courses in Australia. Between January and December 2023, demand share for VET courses amongst Vietnamese students grew from 5% to 9.4%. 

4. Chinese students place greater emphasis on securing accommodation before departure 

According to our Emerging Futures 3 survey from April 2023, most students said they would still keep their overseas study plans even if they hadn't first secured accommodation. However, students from China were notable outliers, with only 5% of Chinese students agreeing that they would still travel if they hadn't first secured accommodation, compared with an overwhelming 72% who said they would not travel at all if they hadn't first secured accommodation. 

5. Australia and Canada are tied as the most popular study destinations

For the first time in our Emerging Futures series, Emerging Futures 4 revealed that Australia had become the most desired destination for international students, sharing the top spot with Canada. Both destinations were considered the first-choice study options for 25% of respondents, ahead of the UK which was favoured by 22% of respondents, and the US which was favoured by 19%. 

6. Demand for postgraduate courses from Vietnam has increased significantly since January 2022

Since early 2022, Vietnamese student demand for postgraduate courses in Australia have continuously risen. In this period, demand grew by 5.3 percentage points, which was the most significant growth in postgraduate course demand of any of the major source markets, including India and China. 

7. Chinese students are at the vanguard of using AI or ChatGPT for their applications

Our Emerging Futures 4 survey from October 2023 was the first in this series to focus on AI and its influence on international students. A considerable 73% of Chinese students said they planned to or had already used the ChatGPT program or other forms of AI to help them write an application for an overseas institution. This was almost double the global average of 39%. Furthermore, 75% of Chinese students said they had used, or were planning to use AI to help them decide which institution to study at.  

8. Australia becomes the top destination market for Kenyan students

Since the start of 2023, Australia has consistently been the top destination market for Kenyan students. By the end of 2023, Australia had the highest share of destination demand from Kenyan students with 30.5%, ahead of the UK with 26.7%. In fact, May 2023 saw the number of Kenyan students enrolled in Australian institutions reach an all-time high of 6,605. For more information on this growing source market read our latest report, Understanding Kenya as a Source Market here

9. Most students would still pursue studies in Australia even if post-study work rights were shortened

Emerging Futures 4 showed students were willing to make sacrifices if aspects of Australia’s post-study work rights visa were changed. Nearly 62% of respondents who were either planning to, or who were currently studying in Australia said they would not change study destinations if the length of Australia's post-study work rights visa was shortened. This is compared to the 27.6% of respondents who said they might consider changing it, and the 10.6% who said they definitely would change it. When comparing source markets, just under 77% of survey respondents from Bangladesh indicated they would not change study destinations if the post-study work visa was shortened, followed by 70% of those surveyed from India, and 67% from Indonesia.   

10. Parents are the biggest source of income for students, ahead of scholarships and loans 

Emerging Futures 4 was also the first entry in this series to survey the parents of prospective, applied, and current students. Parents were found to be the biggest source of funding for students, with 71% saying they planned to, or were currently funding their child's education. In comparison, 42% of parents said their child's education would be or currently is funded through ‘scholarships’, while just under 26% said ‘loans’. 

Vincent Dwyer
Vincent Dwyer18 December 2023