Australian Curriculum

The Rising Demand for the Australian Curriculum in International Schools

Historically, the landscape of international education has been dominated by the UK, USA, and International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculums. However, data suggests that the Australian curriculum could offer significant value and meet growing demand. for new and unique international schools. Analysing data on international student enrollments into higher education and other programs in the UK, USA, Australia, and Canada highlights the potential benefits of adopting the Australian curriculum in more international schools.

International Student Trends

United Kingdom:

  • The UK hosted 679,970 non-UK students in the 2021/22 academic year.*
  • Non-EU enrolments surged to 559,825, a 25% increase from the previous year.
  • First-year students from non-EU countries rose by 85,000 to 350,324 in 2021/22.

(2022/23 data not yet available*)


  • The USA saw over one million international students in the 2022/23 academic year, a 12% increase from the previous year.
  • New enrollments exceeded pre-pandemic levels, with over 298,000 international students starting programs last year.
  • China and India collectively made up 53% of all international students in the USA.


  • The number of international students in Australia reached a record 713,144 as of February 2023, up from 664,178 in September 2023.

Australian Curriculum

*The above data is used as a general indicator of trends only. UK data represents 2021/22

It is clearly evident that the number of Australian international schools overseas do not exist in the same proportion of other overseas schools.

The Case for the Australian Curriculum

Growing Popularity of Australian Education:

  • The substantial increase in the number of international students in Australia, surpassing 700,000 for the first time, highlights the growing appeal of Australian education. This trend signifies that international students and their families recognize the quality and value of the Australian education system. In fact, Australia has a long history, with it arguably being the earliest pioneer of overseas and international pathways.

Alignment with Global Standards:

  • The Australian curriculum is designed to meet high educational standards, focusing on critical thinking, creativity, and real-world problem-solving skills. This alignment with global educational standards makes the Australian curriculum a strong contender for international schools seeking to provide a robust education that prepares students for future success. The curriculum is academically rigorous, practical, and focused on curriculum and learning for context. It requires teachers to design programs for diversity and is not textbook-driven.

Universality and Flexibility:

  • The Australian curriculum is adaptable and can be tailored to meet the needs of diverse student populations. Its emphasis on inclusivity and equity ensures that all students have access to quality education regardless of their background. The values and beliefs of providing a high quality of education for all are synonymous for the classrooms of Australia and curriculum design.

Australian Curriculum Recognition by Top Universities:

  • Australian education is recognized and respected by top universities worldwide. This recognition ensures that students who complete the Australian curriculum are well-prepared for higher education, whether they choose to study in Australia or elsewhere. Although the UK and Universities tend to be high on ranking scales, there continues to be criticism of ranking systems and their relevance in the modern world. Employers want relevant training, and Australian degrees are highly valued for this.

Australian universities rank highly:

Australia Rank 2024World University Rank 2024 World University Rank 2023UniversityCityState/territory
137 34 University of MelbourneMelbourneVictoria
254 44 Monash UniversityMelbourneVictoria
360 =54 University of SydneySydneyNew South Wales
467 62 Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralian Capital Territory
570 53 The University of QueenslandBrisbaneQueensland
684 =71 UNSW SydneyKensingtonNew South Wales
7=111 88 University of AdelaideAdelaideSouth Australia
8=143 =131 The University of Western AustraliaPerthWestern Australia
Source: Times Higher Education Best Universities in Australia 2024

Diverse and Multicultural Environment:

  • Australia’s multicultural society is reflected in its education system, promoting diversity and cultural understanding. International schools offering the Australian curriculum can leverage this strength to create inclusive learning environments that prepare students for a globalized world.

Strategic Location:

  • Australia’s geographical location in the Asia-Pacific region makes it a strategic choice for international schools catering to students from Asia and other nearby regions. This proximity allows for better cultural exchange and understanding between students and their peers from different backgrounds.

Other Factors to Consider


Schools need to differentiate themselves from others. Parents are looking for unique features that help their children stand out and have unique and different experiences. An Australian school definitely stands out in a market crowded by UK, US and IB schools. An Australian school will be marketed on academic standards but also on a platform of beliefs, values and character traits that are attractive to other cultures. Australia is generally perceived to be international and friendly to overseas students. Although, of course, pockets of Australia, the UK, and the UK have received some criticism in some isolated cases.

A Change in Market Dominance

It must be mentioned that the UK, USA, Australian, Canadian, and IB curriculums will all get you into most Universities worldwide. Market perceptions drive a belief that one curriculum is a better choice than another.

Also, IB is the most “international” of the curriculum choices, designed specifically to be universal and acceptable for all pathways. It was originally designed to be universal and continues to be attractive for university entrance. IB is considered universal and independent in the marketplace. The proliferation of IB schools makes the argument that some parents prefer not to align themselves only to the UK and US pathways. The above data supports IB as a good choice for parents wanting open options.

International Politics

Various political factors also influence overseas pathways and the perception of a better choice for overseas students. In particular, the political leanings of the USA and the UK, as well as changes in leadership by political parties, influence policy and trends for higher education pathways. The ability to get visas for study and the potential of getting work visas after completion influence the attractiveness of overseas study.


Some other things that make Australia quite attractive are a weaker Australian dollar compared to the US and perceptions of safety. At the time of publishing this article, the Australian dollar was just 66 cents to the USD, making Australia a cheaper alternative to the US and UK, particularly in terms of fees and living costs.


Governments change policy for various reasons, and there is much debate about potential caps on university places in Australia.

“……the rapid growth in student numbers post-COVID has the government worried about unscrupulous education providers and the shortage of rental accommodation in our big cities.” (Source)

This is also a factor, however, in other countries, and we don’t believe this will have a significant long-term impact. History tells us that the tides change for and against US, UK and Canadian programs based on policy and circumstances.

While the UK, USA, and IB curriculums remain popular in international schools, a compelling case exists for the wider adoption of the Australian curriculum. The increasing number of international students in Australia, combined with the curriculum’s alignment with global standards, universality, and recognition by top universities, makes it an attractive option for international schools. By offering the Australian curriculum, international schools can provide students with a high-quality, flexible, and globally recognized education that prepares them for success in an interconnected world. As the demand for diverse and inclusive education continues to grow, the Australian curriculum stands out as a valuable addition to the repertoire of international education options.

School Accreditation Processes

The processes required to get school accreditation differ for US, UK, IB or Australian schools. Historically, this has been a factor influencing school owners’ decisions. (Contact GSE directly for a deeper explanation) The complexity, time required, and costs are varied for different types of accreditation.

GSE is currently exploring opportunities for Australian-branded schools overseas and is open to exploring different types of partnerships. There is a strategy and a place for more Australian curriculum schools.

GSE is currently launching a new school in Sydney, Australia.

If you want to learn more about the steps required to set up a school, check out some of our other articles:

Steps to Setting Up a New School

10 Steps and Articles on How to Set Up a New School

GSE International School Franchise Models

GSE provides specialist services to set up all forms of education institutions, including international schools, kindergartens, vocational colleges, universities and online/virtual schools.

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CEO and Education Expert Greg Parry

Greg Parry

Internationally renowned for his expertise in education leadership, Greg Parry’s vast experience includes leadership of projects for education institutions throughout Australia, the Middle East, the United States, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and China. Recognised for his numerous contributions in the education arena, Greg has received the Minister’s Award for Excellence in School Leadership based on improvements in school performance and a range of successful principal training and leadership development programs, as well as the School of Excellence Award for Industry/School Partnerships and the School of Excellence Award for Technology Innovation. His company GSE (Global Services in Education) has been recognised as having the Best Global Brand in International Education in 2015 and 2016.

Considered one of the premier experts in his profession, Greg has trained teachers and principals worldwide in critical thinking, language development, and leadership. His expertise in school start-up projects, leadership, and curriculum development has made him a sought-after authority in this discipline.

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