Outcomes for international students: What’s the story?

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The international education market is very important to Australia. International students studying onshore are a key part of this, not only because of the fees they pay to study, but also their contribution to the broader economy while living here.

NCVER recently released results of a survey conducted with international graduates from onshore VET programs. This mirrors NCVER’s survey of the domestic student outcomes, so let’s contrast the two.

Comparing international and domestic student outcomes


NCVER’s 2017 survey data shows that around 85% of international onshore graduates were satisfied with the overall quality of the training. Nearly 89% would recommend the training, and 85% their training provider. For domestic students, figures were slightly up on those of 2016, with around 87% of graduates satisfied with the overall quality of training. Nearly 92 % of graduates would recommend the training and about 89% of them would recommend their training provider. These international and domestic figures are comparable, but slightly higher for domestic students.

The international graduates were generally quite satisfied with both the teaching and assessment in their course, and with the development of their problem-solving skills (85, 86 and 83% satisfied respectively). They were somewhat less satisfied with the improvement in their writing skills (76%).

Reasons for training

For the international onshore graduates about 63% undertook training for employment-related reasons, 29.5% for personal reasons and around 7% for further study reasons. 89% fully or partly achieved their main reason for training. For domestic graduates, about 84% undertook training for employment-related reasons, 13% for personal reasons, and 4% for further study reasons. This represents a strong contrast between the international and domestic graduates, with domestic students relatively much more employment focused, while a much higher proportion of international students were focused on more personal reasons for study.

For domestic graduates around 84% of them achieved their main reason for undertaking training. This is 5 percentage points below that for international onshore graduates.

Employment outcomes

For international graduates, around 67% of international onshore graduates were employed after training. For domestic graduates, the figure was 78%. The result was similar to the 2016 domestic data and just over 10% higher than for the international graduates.

International graduates who were looking for work after training were asked what barriers they faced during their search for employment. Of these 95% encountered at least one barrier, with the most commonly cited being not having permanent residency or a work visa (about 43%). Another significant barrier for them was insufficient work experience.

Further study options

About 48% of international graduates were enrolled in further study after training. For domestic graduates the figure was around 30%. The survey data also show that a slightly higher proportion of international graduates from TAFE were enrolled in further study after training when compared with those from private training providers (50% versus 47%).

It is well worth dipping into these two surveys using the links provided in this article as there is considerable richness in the data, not only between international and domestic graduates, but also provider types. Have a look!

Outcomes for international students: What’s the story? | VDC