New Department of Education data shows 84,615 students commenced studying in the first two months of the year – 26,690 more than in 2019, a 46.1 per cent rise.
It is also an increase on 2022, with 26,164 more international students commencing their degrees this year (44.8 per cent higher).
Student enrolments also grew by 43,270, up 15.9 per cent, compared to the same period in 2022.
“International education added more than $40 billion to the economy pre-COVID – we are working back to that position of strength,” Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said.
“The steady recovery of our international education sector is a testament to the quality of Australia’s world-class university system. Our institutions offer a good experience and students know it.
“We’re making up lost ground and going beyond, with the number of new students beginning their studies surpassing pre-pandemic levels.
“It’s also encouraging to see an increase in student enrolments compared to the first two months of last year when international borders were only just beginning to re-open around the world.
“It’s estimated that around 250,000 students have arrived onshore in the first three months of 2023.
“The reset of Australia’s migration system will give international students greater confidence that they can use their Australian education in Australia if they wish to. This will help address skills shortages and drive economic growth.
“Beyond the numbers, international students make valuable contributions that enrich our communities, improve our social and cultural fabric and strengthen our friendships with the world.”