Diversifying the International Student Population in New South Wales

English Australia and BONARD release report aimed at supporting NSW’s international education diversification efforts.

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Diversification is an institutional priority for 77% of international education providers in New South Wales

Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico and Chile are in focus for the sector.

October, 2023 – Diversification is an institutional priority for over three-quarters of all international education providers in New South Wales, Australia.

This emerged from new research by English Australia and BONARD aimed at supporting NSW’s international education diversification efforts. The project was funded by Study NSW’s Partner Projects grant program.

While 57% of education providers in NSW said that diversification is an institutional priority, 20% pointed out it is their top priority.

“With the top five source countries accounting for 59% of all international enrolments in NSW pre-pandemic, this large-scale mapping pinpointed opportunities for the NSW sector to diversify its source country, course portfolio and delivery modes”, Toshi Kawaguchi, Executive Director of Study NSW, commented while presenting the project at the 2023 Australian International Education Conference in Adelaide.

Diversifying source countries has become a key action to build resilience as the sector recovers and grows after the challenging years of the Covid-19 pandemic. This report provides practical advice and actionable insights that can support the sector to diversify and future-proof.

Diversification_figure 1Figure 1: Importance of diversification for NSW education providers

For each country, we conducted an in-depth investigation to identify the key factors and nuances that make the market unique,” Ivana Bartosik, International Education Director at BONARD, explained.

“We also assessed which features of the NSW international education offer resonate with prospective students in each country. With these core elements, we then developed a bespoke marketing and recruitment strategy, with an analysis of opportunities, challenges, funding availability, student motivators and post-study plans.”

To deliver these insights, BONARD conducted a performance benchmark of NSW in the context of Australia and Australia’s closest competitors and assessed developments in NSW’s market share development. Subsequently, a series of consultations with NSW stakeholders identified four priority countries for diversification: Vietnam, Indonesia, Mexico and Chile.

Diversification_figure 2_sourceFigure 2: Future potential by sector

Employability and career opportunities were high on all students’ priorities, while accommodation availability and cost of living were reported as the biggest barriers.

The importance of other factors varied across the four countries surveyed: for example, while an enjoyable lifestyle was the top factor attracting prospective students from Mexico to NSW, Vietnamese and Indonesian students primarily consider the reputation of the education provider.

Brett Blacker, CEO at English Australia, commented: ““Developing targeted, sector-wide strategies for these focus markets will build greater resilience in the NSW international education sector, create new growth opportunities and enhance the experience of international students. Ultimately, diversification serves to the benefit of all stakeholders as it helps secure more sustainable international student recruitment.”

Dr Bartosik added: “The results also highlight how cooperation among all stakeholders on strategic markets, especially in terms of policy alignment and messaging, can create an environment that stimulates diversification and sets the sector up for success.”

According to the survey, education providers in NSW are particularly interested in diversifying their student population. Another key area of interest for providers is the diversification of course portfolio, to achieve a more balanced distribution of international students in study programs. The third priority for providers is exploring alternative delivery models such as hybrid and EdTech and online courses.

Diversification_figure 3Figure 3: Areas of interest for diversification in NSW education providers

The full report is available below.



The research was carried out by English Australia and BONARD, aimed at supporting NSW’s international education diversification efforts. The project was funded by Study NSW’s Partner Projects grant program. The research gathered contributions from 72 stakeholder consultations with representatives of the higher education, VET and ELICOS sectors and education agencies, as well as 243 responses from international students.

Study NSW was established by the NSW Government in 2014 to support the sustainable development of the state’s international education sector. Study NSW is part of Investment NSW, a portfolio within the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade. Investment NSW’s mandate is to reinforce NSW as the most desirable place in the world to visit, study, invest and do business. For more information, visit www.study.nsw.gov.au.

English Australia is the national peak body representing the English language sector of international education in Australia. As a highly respected organization, English Australia plays a pivotal role in promoting and maintaining the quality of English language programs offered to international students across the country. For more information, visit https://www.englishaustralia.com.au/.

BONARD is a market research provider with 15 years of experience in the international education sector. Leveraging evidence-based solutions, BONARD assists governments, destinations, and individual providers in developing tailored strategies and policies. With researchers who are members of ESOMAR World Research, BONARD is committed to delivering reliable market insights. Learn more about BONARD at www.bonardeducation.com.

For more information about the report: please contact Ivana Bartosik, BONARD’s International Education Director: ivana.bartosik@bonard.com


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