Australian international student tuition fees continued to rise in 2020 but what can we expect in 2021?


A university pricing strategy not only has implications affecting the perception of where the university sits in the marketplace; it also represents an essential component of the university’s financial planning.


Universities are now facing extremely challenging market conditions and hence will need to make important decisions on where they want to price their programs to reach the right group of applicants and also ensure they reach their overall financial goals according to their university budget.



Insights from our 2020 fee analysis

With the aim of providing a complete view of the published tuition fees for international students in Australia, each year we develop a comprehensive analysis of international tuition fees in Australia. The report includes a comparative analysis for undergraduate, postgraduate and Study Abroad programs.


International student fees were collected for over 6,500 programs in 2020 from all 40 Australian university websites and printed materials. The programs were then categorized into broad fields of study consistent with those used by the Department of Education. This additional level of categorization was based on the name and structure of each program and the specific faculty which offers the degree.


To provide a comparative analysis, we calculate each university’s average annual tuition fee by study level and for various fields of study. The full report includes an extensive analysis including tables and charts which illustrates the position of each university against competitors by study level and by 11 fields of study.  




Fees increased in 2020 for all programs at all study levels!


For the last seven years, Studymove has conducted an annual review of international student tuition fees in Australia. Based on our research of 2020 fees, the annual tuition fee for international students in 2020 is 5.3% more than 2019 for all programs at all study levels (Chart 1).


In 2020:


  • 7 universities increased their average annual fees between 0% and 3%
  • 23 universities increased their average annual fees between 3% and 6%
  • 8 universities increased their average annual fees between 7% and 9%
  • 3 universities increased their average annual fees more than 10%


Chart 1. Increase of Annual Average Fees in 2020 (All programs) 

Increase in Average International Student Fees 2020



Change in fees by study level in 2020



We reviewed 3,952 undergraduate programs offered at 40 Australian universities in 2020. Chart 2 illustrates the average international tuition fees for undergraduate programs for each Australian University.

The chart also illustrates the complexity and range of options offered by Australian universities from a price perspective. As we explained in previous years, this wide range of fees across the higher education sector is enabling Australian universities to reach a larger group of international applicants and offer a greater portfolio of options to international applicants.


Chart 2. 2020 Average Annual International Fee - Undergraduate programs in Australia 


Average: $33,960 and Median: $32,318 


On average, the annual international tuition fee for an undergraduate program in 2020 is $33,960 (compared with $32,470 in 2019) and the median is $32,318 in 2020 compared with $31,413 in 2019.

This represents an increase of $1,490 (4.6% more) in 2020 for the average annual tuition fee for undergraduate programs.



We reviewed 2,501 postgraduate programs offered at 40 Australian universities in 2020. Similar to the analysis of undergraduate programs, there are a variety of options offered from a price perspective. Postgraduate fees range from $25,503 and $46,132 per annum.

Chart 3. 2020 Average Annual International Fee - Postgraduate programs in Australia 


Average: $34,627 and Median: $34,693 



Chart 3 illustrates the average international tuition fees for postgraduate programs for each Australian University. On average, the annual international tuition fee for a postgraduate program in 2020 is $34,627 (compared with $33,180 in 2019) The median is $34,693 in 2020 compared to $32,793 in 2019.

This represents an increase of $1,447 (4.4% more) in 2020 for the average annual tuition fee for postgraduate programs (compared to $1,584 or 5.0% more in 2019 than 2018).




We identified a more compact distribution of fees across all universities for Study Abroad programs.


Chart 4. 2020 Average Annual International Fee - Study Abroad programs in Australia 

Study Abroad

Average: $10,488 and Median: $9,900 


On average, the cost of a standard Study Abroad program for 6 months in 2020 is $10,488 (compared with $10,314 in 2019). The median is $9,900 in 2020 compared to $9,773 in 2019.

This represents an increase of $174 (1.7% more) in 2020 for the average annual tuition fee for Study Abroad programs (compared to $79 or 0.7% more in 2019).



International Student Fees in Australia in 2020 

Change in fees by field of study in 2020

The complexity of international pricing strategies for the higher education sector also lies within the large portfolio of products which Australian universities offer to international students. One university can offer more than 250 different programs with varying structures and target audiences. For that reason, it is essential to extend the analysis and offer a comparative view on the price of programs by fields of study.

By field of study (undergraduate and postgraduate programs), the 2020 increases in fees compared to 2019 were:


The field of study which saw the lowest increase was Management and Commerce which interestingly is the field of study with the largest number of international students in Australia (close to 50% of the total).


What will be the likely pricing strategies in 2021?

A few scenarios


Pricing is one of the most important elements of the marketing mix and, for the international education sector especially, it is a complex process. The current global market conditions are going to make it particularly challenging to set fees for 2021 and beyond.


We believe universities will consider the following four factors which may affect the demand from international applicants when setting future fees:


1. Institutional financial constraints

Organizations require resources to provide the best study experience 

First, we need to acknowledge that universities have been severely financially affected by COVID-19. Going forward, they will be carefully considering the right amount of fees which will enable them to minimize the impacts experienced in 2020.

This will be important to ensure they have the resources and required budgets to be able to provide the best possible study experience to both domestic and international students and continue focusing and investing in research activities which are vital in reaching their institutional goals.



2. Planning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hope for the best but prepare for the worst


It is expected that a vaccine or a treatment for COVID-19 will be available in early 2021 which is going to change the global future outlook positively. 


A more favourable outlook for 2021 may motivate universities to consider an increase in international fees. As travel restrictions ease and students are able to return to campus, it is expected to see an increase in the demand for education services which may justify an increase in international fees in 2021 and beyond.


But as we know, there is no clear indication or scenario at this point on how or when this pandemic is going to be under control and potential students are able and willing to undertake study overseas. Therefore, universities may still take a conservative approach in their fee strategy for 2021 and 2022.



3.Global economic recession

Not every country has been affected in the same way

Universities will also be assessing if international applicants will be experiencing financial constraints from the global economic recession. These financial constraints may affect the purchasing power of international applicants and create a more price sensitive demand for education services. 


What is important to remember here is that, not every country in the world has been affected in the same way. For that reason, universities will be assessing the extent to which international applicants may have been impacted by the global recession and the possible impact of higher fees to study abroad would have on demand.




Benchmarking is going to be critical

Now more than ever, Australian universities will need to arm themselves with wide ranging data to gain a full assessment and understanding of competitor pricing strategies, policies implemented by other study destinations and the overall demands of international students.


If 2021 results in a more price sensitive environment, there is a greater need to gain an understanding of the pricing position of each university against others via benchmarking. Having access to accurate, timely and interactive data will be extremely beneficial going forward and Studymove can provide access to timely data, analysis and insights to assist universities in building a complete picture of the state of the market.




Studymove is keeping a close eye on fee trends and university fee decisions for 2021. Our 2021 international tuition fee analysis report will be made available for purchase in the coming months.    


Our fees data gives you access to critical industry data

If your university needs fee data now to assist in your future planning, considering purchasing our 2020 International Tuition Fee analysis which is available now for purchase.

This essential 89-page report is tailored for your institution and provides a comprehensive fees analysis including extensive charts and tables enabling you to accurately benchmark your institutions fees against competitors.


A complete fees dataset is also available for universities to purchase. The dataset will enable you to access all the raw program and fee data (6,500+ programs) and conduct further analysis to meet your specific needs.


Analysis of International Fees Australia

Contact us to find out how affordable our reports are. We can also send them to you within two business days!


For more information, please contact Keri Ramirez, Managing Director of Studymove at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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