International education data gaps: sector perspectives

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Key Findings

During the consultation process, stakeholders provided feedback on eight broad areas of data that measure and evaluate the international education ecosystem. The most commonly cited concerns were:

  • Reducing time lags, improving accessibility of existing data sources – especially enrolments/commencements and visa data
  • More publicly available data at more granular levels of detail. For example, more detailed information on provinces and states in geographically diverse markets
  • Meaningful benchmarking and standardised performance metrics of existing data. In particular, mobility and student experience to help providers set actionable goals
  • Better communicating data on the benefits of international education to the economy
  • Improved student outcomes data – longitudinal data, particularly for employment outcomes, noting difficulties in capturing and tracking
  • Regular and publicly available student mobility data (particularly outbound), including by mode of study.

The project aimed to provide an insight into where international education data currently lets education providers down, and where the sector believes there is most urgency and greatest potential impact for coordinated improvements in significant national data sets and national surveys, on a Commonwealth or state and territory level.


Australia is fortunate to have access to some high-quality data, particularly in relation to onshore international students. However, consultations with the sector found three key opportunities for strengthened international education data in Australia. From a provider perspective, improvements in these areas will have significant impact on policy, evaluation and quality assurance.

The report makes the following three recommendations to government:

Recommendation 1: Improve awareness and accessibility of international education data
  • Establish a single comprehensive repository or portal for all available data sets

  • Provide more detailed technical notes and user guides for existing data

  • Provide data in more accessible formats

Recommendation 2: Expand data sets where critical gaps or insufficiencies exist
  • Improve the timeliness, accessibility and granularity of visa data

  • Improve the timeliness, accessibility and granularity of enrolments and commencements data

  • Invest in new data sets

Recommendation 3: Increase support for interpretation of existing data
  • More closely align the Department of Education and Training and Department of Home Affairs data sets

  • Provide more support for analysis of data

  • Maintain ongoing dialogue between the sector and data custodians.


Actions to date

Since submitting the report last year, some exciting data developments are already underway to benefit the sector. For example, Austrade has made some changes to the Market Information Package (MIP), including:

  • new regional level data dashboards in addition to existing state and territory level data
  • reconciling time period inconsistencies between DET and Home Affairs data – MIP users can now compare both data sets on a calendar year to date basis
  • updating the MIP user guide, including ‘MIP Tips’ to help subscribers better understand the data – look out for tutorial videos later in the year
  • commissioning an update of demand forecasts (last done in 2015 to develop AIE2025) to be shared with the sector.

IEAA is looking forward to working collaboratively with government agencies in 2019 to continue to improve international education data. Watch this space!

Published: February 2019