INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS AND THE MOST RECENT ABS DATA AVAILABLE
The most recent ABS data available indicates that NOM has peaked at an all-time high in March quarter 2008, adding a net of 93,500 persons to the Australian population in that quarter - see Australian Demographic Statistics, September quarter, 2010 (cat. no. 3101.0). The net count of international students contributing to this peak in March 2008 was 42,600 persons or 46% of the total NOM for this quarter. As noted at the beginning of this article, by 2008-09, the student visa group was by far the largest group contributing to Australia's population growth. It was also noted that seasonality of international students (which peaks in a March quarter) also heavily influences the rise and fall of the total NOM estimates each quarter.
The most recent preliminary NOM data available at September quarter 2010 (which is modelled data and unable to provide information on students) is showing a sharp decline in NOM estimates when compared with the same quarter in the previous year. This, in part, is due to the large numbers of temporary visa holders (including students) who have arrived in recent years and are now starting to depart Australia in larger numbers. For example, for the September quarter 2010, preliminary data shows 67,700 departures was the largest ever recorded for any September quarter. Departures of students are also increasing with the review of rules for eligibility to obtain onshore permanent residence visas or other visas(footnote 1) . The sharp decline in NOM is also due to the decline in arrivals which, when compared with the same quarter in the previous year, has been dropping steadily since the peak of the March quarter 2008. The combination of a decline in NOM arrivals and an increase in NOM departures has strongly impacted the net figure that is calculated for NOM.
The contribution that student visa holders are having on the sharp decline in preliminary NOM estimates is not yet evident until the NOM data is finalised by the ABS. As mentioned earlier in this article, details of an individual's actual behaviour and associated characteristics can only be accurately recorded at the end of the 16 month reference period following a traveller's initial border crossing. However, supporting information from DIAC shows the number of student visa grants is dropping. Student visa grants from DIAC(footnote 2) are down from a peak of 319,600 in 2008-09 to 270,500 in 2009-10. The number of student visas being granted by DIAC can be seen as a precursor to the number of student arrivals likely to contribute to NOM.
The next section will use the most recent DIAC data available to give an early indication of the likely trends in various student visa subclasses that may impact on future NOM and therefore the future population counts for Australia.
1 APH 2010, Overseas students: immigration policy changes 1997–May 2010. <back
2 DIAC 2011, BR0097 Student visa program report 2010–11 to 31 December 2010, p 32. <back
1 APH 2010, Overseas students: immigration policy changes 1997–May 2010, p various. <back
2 APH 2010, Overseas students: immigration policy changes 1997–May 2010, p 13. <back