Monday, 15 Jul 2013


More Australians relocating to study

15 July 2013: Australian students have become increasingly more likely to relocate for university during this century and are more mobile than the general population, according to a new analysis of Census data by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER).

In the latest ACER Joining the Dots research briefing, Principal Research Fellow Dr Daniel Edwards and ACER Research Fellow Eva van der Brugge tracked the movement of domestic undergraduate university students using the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2006 and 2011 Census of Australian Population and Households, to identify the residential location of students at the time of and five years prior to the Census.

In 2011, 257 000 or 38.9 per cent of Australia’s 660 000 domestic undergraduate university students reported living at a different address than five years prior. In comparison, only 31 per cent of the entire Australian population lived at a different address in 2006.

Dr Edwards and Ms van der Brugge found that the mobility of the student cohort has increased over time. In 2006 only 34.7 per cent of students reported living at a different address five years earlier, representing a 4.2 percentage point shift between the student cohort of 2006 and those in 2011, compared to a 1.9 percentage point increase for the entire population.

“While this difference is modest, it does show that the propensity for mobility has become greater among university students in the past five years than among the wider population,” Dr Edwards said.

Focusing on the 2011 cohort of students, Dr Edwards and Ms van der Brugge identified four key movement groups. The most common type of movement was of students moving within metropolitan areas, either within the same capital city or from one capital city to another, accounting for 46.4 per cent of all student movers. The next most common type of movement represented those moving within regional areas, with 27.6 per cent of all movers in this category. A further 19.1 per cent of students movers moved from a regional area in 2006 to a metropolitan area in 2011, and 6.9 per cent moved from metropolitan areas to regional areas.

“Moving home to attend university is not ingrained in the Australian psyche like it is in countries such as the USA or the UK,” Dr Edwards said.

“Nevertheless, some Australian students do move and it is interesting to explore the patterns as a way to start conversations around the issues surrounding movement, including university choice, barriers to study and motivations for inter-city movement among students,” he said.

Joining the Dots is ACER’s series of Research Briefings about Australian Higher Education with a focus on data-driven analyses of policy. Content is available on the Informit platform. Further information about content and access for those not linked to Informit can be found at or by emailing


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