Understanding the industry


The English language sector – the global context

Fact SheetOver 1,557,000 people travelled to an English speaking country to learn English in 2013 – globally the industry is worth over US$11.7 billion.  The top two destinations for international students wishing to learn English are the UK and the USA, followed by Canada and then Australia.  Australia has grown its market share as a destination for international students wanting to improve their English language skills and overtook Canada for the first time in 2013 to take 3rd place in terms of the number of student weeks delivered.  In 2013, Study Travel Magazine estimated Australia’s global market share at 9.5% of English language students and 16.5% of the number of weeks spent studying English.

Click here for the English Australia Global Language Travel Fact Sheet – a summary of the profile of the global language travel industry.




The English language sector – in Australia

Fact SheetFollowing five consecutive years of growth, peaking at 162,114 students in 2008, the English language sector in Australia experienced four years of declining numbers.  2013, however, saw a strong return to growth for this important sector. It remains the largest of all education sectors in terms of the numbers of new international students commencing courses each year.  In 2013, 147,828 international students undertook English language courses in Australia.  62% of these held student visas, 19% visitor visas and 19% working holiday and other visas. 

The most recent AEI data (May 2014) shows that approximately 63% of student visa holders completing English language courses in 2012 continued through to further study in other sectors. This means that in 2013 approximately 57,580 (39%) English language students transitioned into further studies and approximately 90,250 (61%) undertook English language study for other reasons.  

The Australian English language industry is respected globally as a world leader due to its cohesiveness and professionalism.  Public and private sector institutions work together closely within the national association and Australia’s ELICOS National Standards are the envy of the world, providing consistent standards for all providers.

Click here for the English Australia ELICOS Industry Statistics 2013 Fact Sheet – a summary of the profile of the Australian English language industry.

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There are several sources of statistics relating to international students studying in Australia.


English Australia

Executive SummaryThe best source of statistics for the English language sector is the annual Report produced by English Australia with funding support from the Australian government.  Since 1996, English Australia has undertaken an annual survey of all Australian providers registered to deliver English language programs. The resulting Report includes all students regardless of their visa type (the 2013 survey indicated that 38% of English language students held visitor, working holiday or other visas and are therefore not captured by either the DIBP or AEI statistics).

Click here to view the latest copy of the Executive Summary of the annual report which is made available to all interested stakeholders at no charge.

The full 150 page Report, with detailed tables and charts, is made available free of charge to all colleges that participate in the survey and to government departments. Copies of the full Report are also available to other interested parties for a fee.  The data is also available in Pivot Table form for an additional fee.  Contact easec@englishaustralia.com.au for further information.


Department of Immigration & Border Protection (DIBP)

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) produces quarterly reports on statistics related to student visa applications and grants.  Statistical data is available on all student visas granted in Australia (onshore) and overseas (offshore). These statistics are available by education sector and country of citizenship.  The statistics for the education sector 'Independent ELICOS' indicate how many students gain visas for stand-alone English language courses, however do not include the large number of students who package an English language course with a further study course under another education sector subclass. The DIBP statistics only relate to student visas and therefore severely underestimate the number of students in the English language sector.

Click here to access DIBP statistics.


Australian Education International (AEI)

Australian Education International (AEI) produces excellent monthly statistics reflecting the numbers of student commencements and enrolments in courses by sector.  The AEI statistics also only relate to students holding student visas and therefore severely underestimate the number of students in the English language sector.

Click here to access AEI statistics.

What do our Students think?

ELT Barometer ReportEnglish Australia has now conducted two major national surveys of student satisfaction across the ELICOS sector - one in 2009 and the most recent in 2011.

The results of the 2011 English Language Barometer (ELB), an ELICOS sector-wide student satisfaction survey coordinated by English Australia, funded by AEI and run by i-graduate are made available to a broad audience in the report "Maximising the ELICOS student experience".

This report compares the 2011 outcomes with those from the 2009 survey as well as the survey results for universities in 2011.

What is particularly pleasing are the high levels of student satisfaction with all aspects of learning, teaching and assessment, as well as with their welcome, social and cultural events. The industry is not complacent, however, and with this publication English Australia has sought to identify areas of priority for the industry and provide best practice approaches to addressing issues, thus allowing for continuous service delivery enhancement across the industry.

The report will be shared across the sector to encourage continuous improvement and enhance student satisfaction. English Australia, in conjunction with the sector, will continue to build on and share this work into the future, in our efforts to strive for the highest level of satisfaction for our students.

The report is structured in three parts: Part 1 is a summary of the ELB findings; Part 2 aims to consider the key themes emerging from the ELB and describes ways that providers might address these targeted areas to ensure continuous improvement of the students’ experience; Part 3 provides a set of practical templates, tools and information to encourage continuous improvement and enhance student satisfaction.

Click here to download the report.

Printed copies of the report are also available from the Secretariat.