Pete Wargent blogspot

CEO AllenWargent Property Buyers, & WargentAdvisory (institutional). 6 x finance author.

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Friday, 9 September 2016

International student boom ignites

Immigration rebounds

The number of permanent and long-term Overseas Arrivals into Australia jumped from 47,210 in June to 85,410 in July according to the ABS, also a strong increase from the prior year result, which saw net annual permanent and long term migration tick up from +262,800 to +269,000.

In reality with the casualisation of the workforce and lifestyles in general the number of so-termed 'permanent' arrivals has a bit less importance than it once did, with folks more transient and flighty than they once were. 

Certainly with cheaper travel and more work of a contractual nature we should acknowledge that migration trends may now be even more volatile and more unpredictable than they used to be. 

The extraordinary contraction in the number of Pommie (and to a somewhat lesser extent Kiwi) settlers continues. The latest figures run only to July so it's too early to say what impact the Brexit referendum might have. 

Mostly the permanent settlers are hailing from Asia.

International students soar

Recall that student visa rules were relaxed with effect from 1 July - and the impact was immediate with the total number of education arrivals expanding to a record 98,400 in the month. The rolling annual total of education arrivals also hit an all-time high of 503,000.

In reality education arrivals are only one part of the short term arrivals picture, but since many are expected to remain in Australia on sundry visa types, the trend is vital in understanding Australia's demographic shift towards residents of Asian heritage.

The number of short term arrivals hit a new high of 7.92 million, mainly comprising holiday makers and those visiting friends and family, increasingly from Asia.

The only dampener here for the planned rebalancing is that Australians continued to make a record number of overseas trips at 9.72 million (although Justin Fabo of Westpac pointed out to me that a material percentage of these trips may be circular in nature, and some may relate to education arrivals making trips home, for example - points taken).

What is not in doubt is that Chinese visitor numbers to Australia are at unprecedented levels. 

The annual number of visitors from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan has doubled since 2012 to 1.56 million. Chinese visitors are up by 24 per cent over the past year, an astonishing rate of growth that implies another doubling over a 3-year time horizon were present trends to persist.

Excluding the month of the lunar new year, this was another record month for Chinese visitors driven by the student intake. Stripping out seasonal adjustments there were a record 157,500 visitors from these three countries in July. 

The wrap

One swallow doesn't make a summer, but the figures suggest that the discreet plan to allow more international students into Australia, with many ultimately to take residency, seems to have had an instantaneous effect. The myriad of pathways for Chinese capital to find its way into Australia is multiplying.

Totting it all up, nationally population growth appears to be still tracking at ~325,000 per annum, increasingly concentrated in the the two most populous capital cities.