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Student Visa Trends in Australia — Nepal

Student visas to Australia have been booming since borders reopened in December 2021. Nepal, Australia’s third-largest source for international students, is helping drive this explosion. Over 18,800 Australian student visas have been granted to Nepali students in 2021/22, with two months remaining in the fiscal year.1 And the majority of these visas have been granted since the Australian borders reopened. If this momentum continues for the remainder of the fiscal year, Nepal should challenge its record high of nearly 23,650 student visas granted in 2018/19.

A couple weeks ago we unpacked Indian student trends in Australia. Today, we’re doing the same with Nepali student trends in Australia. We’ll dig into how student visa numbers have grown since the borders reopened. We’ll compare offshore and onshore student grant rates. And we’ll look at where and what students from Nepal study in Australia.

Key Insights at a Glance

  • Of the 18,800 Australian student visas granted to Nepali students so far in 2021/22, nearly 12,300, or 65%, were granted from January to April 2022, after borders reopened.
  • The grant rate for offshore Nepali students has increased over each of the last three years, and reached 93.6% over the period since Australian borders were reopened.
  • From January through April 2022, offshore Nepali students accounted for more than 86% of the student visas granted to Nepali nationals in both higher ed and vocational education and training (VET).

Students from Nepal Driving Growth After Australian Borders Reopened

The chart below shows a near-two-decade history of Australian student visas granted to students from Nepal.

As with its Indian student population, Australia saw its Nepali student population collapse in 2009/10. But the Nepali student population in Australia recovered by the mid-2010s, experiencing rapid growth from 2014/15 to 2018/19. Student visas granted to Nepali students almost quadrupled over this period, increasing from about 6,000 to a record high of nearly 23,650.

The COVID-19 border closure stunted Australia’s entire international education sector. But from January through April 2022—the first full months since borders reopened—Australia is booming, demonstrating pent-up demand for a Down Under education. Nearly 12,300 student visas were granted to students from Nepal over this period. This means that 65% of all student visas granted to Nepali nationals were granted after Australian borders reopened.

Also, the 12,300 student visas granted shatters the previous record-high of 8,530 student visas granted over these months, set in 2018/19. This represents 44% growth, and puts full-year 2021/22 on pace to set a new all-time high for student visas granted to Nepali students despite the border closure slowdown during the year’s first half.

Student Visas Granted to Offshore vs. Onshore Nepali Students

When we dived into Australian student visas for Indian nationals the other week, we found huge gaps between offshore and onshore students. The following charts will help show if this also holds true for students from Nepal.

In our dive into Indian student trends, we highlighted that the future for Australian universities lies in attracting more offshore Indian students. The same can be said when it comes to students from Nepal. The record-setting highs for Australian student visas granted to Nepali students during the mid-2010s were driven by explosive growth in the offshore cohort.

Since Australia reopened its borders, much of Nepali student growth has again been driven by those offshore. From January to April 2022, nearly 9,000 offshore Nepali students were granted an Australian student visa. This means offshore Nepali students accounted for 73% of student visas granted during this record-setting period.

The previous high for offshore Nepali students during the January-to-April period occurred in 2017/18, when nearly 5,900 were granted a student visa. The new record high represents growth of over 50%, further demonstrating the pent-up demand for an Australian education from offshore students.

Top Study Locations and Levels in Australia for Students from Nepal

Let’s jump into where and what students from Nepal choose to study in Australia. Below is a map of the leading Australian states for Nepali students so far in 2021/22.

The bulk of Nepali students choose to study in New South Wales. In each of the past six years, New South Wales has accounted for more Nepali student visas granted than all other Australian states combined.

Six of eight Australian states are already above their pre-pandemic (2018/19) levels, or are on track to reach these levels by the end of the fiscal year. The Australian Capital Territory (up 90%), South Australia (up 31%), and Tasmania (up 28%) are the big winners so far in 2021/22. New South Wales, Western Australia, and the Northern Territory are on track to return to pre-pandemic numbers.

Both Queensland and Victoria—Australia’s second and third most popular states for Nepali students—are projected to see fewer Nepali students in 2021/22 than 2018/19. Student visas granted to Nepali students for both states are currently down more than 40% over this time frame.

At ApplyBoard, we have a wealth of resources to help students find the right Australian destination and program.

Australian Student Visas for Students from Nepal in Higher Ed and VET

Since 2016/17, higher ed and VET have accounted for more than 97% of Australian student visas granted to Nepali nationals. Let’s dig deeper into the student visas being granted for these study levels.

VET was growing exponentially prior to COVID-19, and is trending toward surpassing those highs by the end of 2021/22. Higher ed has already grown six percent so far in 2021/22 compared to full-year 2020/21. And the news only gets better: the January to April period accounted for more than 65% of all student visas granted to Nepali students at these study levels.

The charts below unpack both study levels by offshore and onshore students.

Looking Forward

As a top three source for international students, Nepal is an important corridor for the diversification of Australia’s education sector. Diversification helps destination countries mitigate sector downturn risks and improve education quality. The growth of student visas for Nepali nationals since Australia reopened its borders is very exciting to see. It will be important for the continuing health of the country’s international education sector to maintain this positive momentum in the coming years.

In addition to pent-up demand, Australia’s post-pandemic boom in student visas has been driven by a wealth of positive news for students, such as:

  • A temporary relaxation of working hours for student visa holders, allowing students to now work more than 40 hours a fortnight in any economic sector.
  • A visa application charge waiver for student visa holders who traveled to Australia between January 19, 2022 and March 19, 2022.
  • An expansion of post-study work eligibility, such as VET graduates becoming eligible for a two-year Temporary Graduate visa.2
  • A campaign promise by the now-elected Labor Party for 20,000 additional university places as part of its “A Future Made in Australia” plan.3

At ApplyBoard, we look forward to working with the new Australian government, our partner schools, and our recruitment partners to improve the accessibility of Australia’s world-class education for students from around the world.

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About the ApplyInsights Team

Led by ApplyBoard Co-Founder and CMO Meti Basiri, the ApplyInsights Team analyzes the latest government, third-party, and ApplyBoard internal data, to provide a complete picture of trends in the international education industry. They also work with industry experts and ApplyBoard team members to gather local insights across key source and destination countries, where ApplyBoard has helped more than 300,000 students around the world.

 

FOOTNOTES:

1. All data courtesy of the Australian Department of Home Affairs (ADHA). All data reported according to Australian governmental financial years, which span from July of one year to June of the next year (for example, July 2020 to June 2021 was the 2020/21 year). The data used for this article includes subclass 500 and subclass 570 to 576 visas granted to primary applicants only.

2. The PIE, Australia reveals post-study work extension and $37m support package. Nov 2021.

3. THE, Australian opposition promises more university places. Dec 2021.

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