Foreign student arrival numbers grow

Karen Sweeney
AAP

Australia's international student intake have already hit more than half a million for the year, new federal government figures show.

By February there were 509,610 foreign students in the country taking up enrolments in more than 540,000 courses.

Education Minister Simon Birmingham said it was the first time this high a figure had been reached so early in the year and is a 12 per cent increase on the same time last year.

"We're on track to continue our record breaking run of growth in international education," he said.

A little over half (56 per cent) signed up for higher education degrees while almost a quarter (24 per cent) are taking advantage of vocational education and training.

While China remains the biggest source country, there's been a 54 per cent jump in the number of students coming from Nepal to study in Australia, as well as a 29 per cent increase in students from Colombia.

The number of Brazilian students bound for Tasmania more than tripled, while Western Australia saw a one-third jump in the number of Bhutanese student arrivals, at 941 by February.

TOP FIVE SOURCE COUNTRIES FOR STUDENTS:

China 31 per cent

India 12 per cent

Nepal 5 per cent

Malaysia 4 per cent

Vietnam 4 per cent.