3401.0 - Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia, Mar 2020  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/05/2020   
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International student arrivals - Australia - March 2020

This feature article provides detail of overseas traveller movements at the national level for international student arrivals. The additional information is provided in the context of the outbreak of COVID-19 which started in China in December 2019.

Visitor arrivals statistics are international travel movements of persons arriving in Australia. It is the number of trips rather than the number of people. All data in this article has used original estimates as trend and seasonally adjusted estimates are not available for all variables being analysed.


Key statistics

Of all arrivals to Australia travelling on an international student visa in March 2020, there was a:

  • Decrease of 11,790 students (-16%) compared to the same month in the previous year.


International students

The outbreak of COVID-19 which started in China in December 2019, has continued to disrupt the movement of international students this month, due to the introduction of travel restrictions from February 2020. In 2019, China was the largest source country nationally. Educational exports are an important contributor to the Australian economy.

Of all arrivals to Australia travelling on an international student visa in March 2020, there was a decrease of 11,790 students (-16%) compared to the same month in the previous year.


The only numeric increase was for:
  • the Schools sector, with 170 more students (25%)


The highest numeric decreases were for:
  • the Higher Education sector, with 5,230 fewer students (-10%)
  • the Vocational Education and Training sector, with 3,170 fewer students (-35%)
  • the Independent ELICOS sector, with 2,300 fewer students (-49%)


12.1 All visitor arrivals(a), Aust. - International Students - Original estimates
Graph: 12.1 All visitor arrivals(a), Aust. - International Students - Original estimates
(a) Includes short-term (less than 1 year) and long-term (1 year or more) visitor arrivals.
(b) English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students.