Sean Zhu, Identity Communication’s business analyst shines a spotlight on a potential audience that’s worth $32b. 

If you’re a marketer, I can recommend a group in Australia that is over 626,000 in size and contributes $32 billion to the Australian economy. They’re easy to reach as they’re concentrated in major cities. They’re young, most are between 18-26 years of age, are tech savvy, enjoy entertainment and travelling and embrace new experiences. They should be a marketer’s dream. But this group maintains a strong connection with the homeland and homeland media channels, so your ‘mainstream’ media may not get through to this large and lucrative group.

You’ve probably guessed, they’re International Students, a potential multicultural marketing segment for Australian brands.

International Student

The numbers are up….

International Student enrolment includes those studying in the Higher Education, VET, Secondary Schooling, English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS).

In 2017, there were 796,529 enrolments. This represents a 12% increase on 2016 and compares with an average annual enrolments growth rate of 4% per year over the preceding ten years.

Higher education a greater contributor

44% of international enrolments in 2017 are in higher education and 27% in vocational education (VET) out of the total number, with China and India being the two largest contributing countries.

VET: The VET sector accounted for 27.2% of total enrolments, India contributed the largest share of in the sector. China was the next largest source country followed by the Republic of Korea and Thailand.3

ELICOS: The English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS) sector accounted for 19.4% of total enrollments in 2017. China was the largest ELICOS market followed by Brazil, Colombia and Thailand.

Higher education: The higher education sector had the largest share in 2017. China and India accounted for 53% of enrolment.
The larger proportion of Higher education means two things:
– Longer time spent in Australia which brings more opportunities for brands
– But they maintain their home networks including social channels, knowing they will return

Tuition Fees
International Students are not eligible for most of the scholarships or student loans and need to pay each semester in advance. Typically, the costs are:

  • ELICOS: $250 – $350 per week, 10-60 weeks
  • VET: $1,000- $20,000 depends on the degree and institution
  • Higher education: The average tuition fee for undergraduate students is around $29,000 per year; Master’s degree ranges from $20,000 to $37,000.
    For example, an International Student studying a Bachelor degree of Marketing and Media (3 years full time) in Macquarie University, the estimated annual fee is $36,450. These fees tend to increase each year.

Geographically concentrated on NSW & VIC

NSW and VIC is home to nearly 70% of international students. And in NSW and VIC, International Students make up one in three students at many universities.


  • This is a young group of consumers, perfect for entertainment, travel, banking, FMCG, food & beverage and beauty brands
  • Reach these audiences via their preferred channels, such as WeChat, Weibo, YouKu, to name a few