Australia seeks to become top English language study destination

Australia seeks to become top English language study destination

The government of Australia has unveiled a new sector strategy with the aim to establish itself as a top, world-class English language study destination for international students.

The Department of Education and Training’s (DET) new sector strategy – English Language Teaching International Engagement Strategy 2025 – has noted that it recognises the key role that English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) plays in relation to Australia’s education exports.

Noting English language study as a key source for attracting foreign students to Australia, the strategy aims to further strengthen this successful sector.

New Australia English language study strategy underlines 4 key objectives

As part of the new strategy, Australia has put forth 4 key strategic objectives, which are:

  1. providing a welcoming and world-leading student experience,
  2. supporting the sector in its pursuit of new opportunities to adopt innovative practices and models,
  3. providing flexibility for students to transition into further studies, and
  4. enabling English language study in Australia to be recognised as a valuable part of the country’s international education sector.

It is hoped that Australia’s ELICOS sector will then go on to enhance quality assurance in Australia’s English language teaching, provide smooth pathways to further study, and “identify new markets and business opportunities.”

In a recent statement, Dan Tehan, Australia’s Minister for Education, emphasised the importance of this new strategy.

Dan Tehan, Australia’s Minister for Education, said: “The strategy will identify opportunities for more students to study English in Australia and will build on the excellent reputation of our world-class providers.

“The strategy will map out opportunities to increase our English language teaching footprint in Australia, online and internationally…[and] will help ensure the sustainable growth of the sector through to 2025 and beyond.”

Overall 2019 ELICOS enrolment growth in Australia was just 1.2%

The brief from DET highlights some of the competitive pressures facing Australia’s ELICOS sector.

The statement noted: “The global environment for English language training is becoming increasingly crowded and challenging as more countries enter the market. Low-cost competitors like the Philippines have emerged, offering potential English language students new and cheap study destination alternatives.

“In-country English language training provision is growing, and providers are developing new technologies and modes of teaching English, both of which challenge the traditional mode of learning English by traveling to an English-speaking destination.”

Almost 180,000 students studied English in Australia in 2018. The annual economic impact of student enrolment in English studies was estimated at AUS$2.4 billion for that year.

However, in terms of student numbers for 2019, recent data releases suggested that this remained essentially flat that year, with year-over-year commencements up less than 1% and overall enrolment growth of just 1.2%.

The strategy highlights the importance of the ELICOS sector, not only in its own right, but in relation to the broader context of Australia’s international education industry.

Overall, 720,150 international students are currently enrolled across various sectors in Australia.

Pic: Rijan Hamidovic

Josephine Walbank - Reporter, Global Education Times (GET News)

Josephine Walbank is a reporter for Global Education Times (GET News) with a focus on education in the UK, Asia-Pacific, and Americas, and student experience and lifestyle news.

Josephine is an experienced journalist who previously served as the Editor-in-Chief of The Falmouth Anchor. She is also the former Deputy Editor of Voices, the Falmouth & Exeter Students’ Union’s publication, and has written for various food and lifestyle publications.

You can reach her at

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