New Federal Government data has shown significant increases across recent years in the number of higher education students from disadvantaged backgrounds, including those from regional and rural Australia, Indigenous students and those from low SES areas.
Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the 2015 higher education student data showed the number of Indigenous students had jumped by 27.1 per cent since 2012, the number of low socioeconomic students grew by 16 per cent and students from regional and remote backgrounds grew by 9.5 per cent.
“This new data shows that we’re opening doors for more Australians no matter their circumstances or where they’re from,” Minister Birmingham said. 
“With a record 1.4 million domestic and overseas students enrolled at Australian institutions it’s particularly encouraging to see students from Indigenous and low socioeconomic backgrounds making up an even greater share of the 2015 cohort.
“We need to safeguard our higher education system so it can keep up with growing demand and continue to improve equity of access, while preserving high quality and affordability for both students and taxpayers. 
“The conversation we are having as a country around higher education reform is about ensuring the system is not only fair but that it also supports excellence while being affordable and sustainable.”
Minister Birmingham said the Turnbull Government was taking an holistic approach to the “persistent” 15 per cent attrition rate for higher education students by focusing on reforms in schools and post-school education.
“Student experiences show there’s a range of factors that lead to student attrition and it is going to take concerted efforts from educators and policymakers to reduce it,” Minister Birmingham said.  
“Universities and higher education providers in particular must take responsibility for the students they enrol because the attrition rate has hovered around 15 per cent for the last decade.
“The options my Higher Education Standards Panel will present will look to help address that statistic by proposing more and clearer information for students so they can make better choices about courses that will meet their needs.”
Minister Birmingham said that the new data also showed a seven per cent jump since 2014 in the number of overseas students studying in Australia, which highlights the strength of international education as our third-largest export and the success of Coalition Government efforts to reverse the hits this sector took under Labor.  This increase in international higher education students represented a $1.2 billion boost in the value of international students to the Australian economy.
“As Australian higher education institutions keep enhancing their international standings so too do the number of overseas students looking to make the most of what we have to offer,” Minister Birmingham said.
“The Turnbull Government’s National Strategy for International Education 2025 will put in place the structures and measures we need to keep seeing strong overseas student enrolments.”
The Selected Higher Education Statistics – 2015 Student Data is available at