New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show the value of education has surged by 68 per cent in the 12 months to September while total exports suffered a decline of 4.7 per cent.
Education is performing better than major goods exports including coal, coke and other minerals which have all suffered significant declines over the year.
The latest quarterly result means education has now added $34 billion to export revenue in 2023, putting it on track to eclipse the record $41 billion it earned for the nation in 2019.
Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said any changes to the flow of international students to Australia in the government’s forthcoming migration strategy needed to recognise the significant economic and social contribution they make.
“Education is the biggest export we don’t dig out of the ground,” Ms Jackson said.
“It makes us tens of billions of dollars each year, supports tens of thousands of jobs and helps pay for the essential services all Australians rely on.
“Beyond that, it makes us friends, acting as a bridge between nations and supporting regional stability which is only becoming more important in a fast-changing strategic environment.
“Australia has developed a strong, competitive edge in the global battle for international students through our careful and strategic work over many decades.
“Any changes that restrict the movement of these people to our shores need to be weighed carefully against the enormous benefits they bring, during and after their studies.”