CANBERRA, March 7 (Xinhua) — More than 600,000 international students studied in Australia in 2017, with China, India and Malaysia taking up the largest proportion, Universities Australia's data showed on Wednesday.
According to the data, a total of 624,001 international students from over 190 countries and regions attended Australian institutions in 2017, up from 553,170 in 2016, with 44 percent enrolled in higher education institutions.
China was the biggest source of international students in Australia with 184,512 students, or 29.5 percent of the total figure, followed by India with 68,285 and 26,006 from Malaysia.
Belinda Robinson, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Universities Australia, said that in addition to bringing cultural, personal and social value to Australia, international students also generated more than 30.9 billion Australian dollars (24.1 billion U.S. dollars) in 2017.
"They're choosing to come to Australia in record numbers for a world-class higher education, the lifestyle, and our safe and welcoming communities," Robinson said in a statement on Wednesday.
She said Australia's international education offerings have grown to be the nation's third largest export sector and "it is incredibly important to our diplomatic, political, trade and business connections around the world."
Robinson said ensuring every international student enjoyed their experience was important because they each could serve as unofficial ambassadors for Australia when they returned to their home countries.
"Behind the statistics are more than half a million stories of students forging a personal connection with Australia, and who we hope will gain new familiarity and great affection for our country," she said.
"Those people-to-people links are so important for Australia's relationships in the region, and it gives Australian students the benefit of a truly global perspective in their education.