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Exploratory and Explanatory Data Analysis (Data Visualization) Of Different Issues Faced By International Students Studying In Australia

Australia has evolved as one of the favorite destinations for studies especially for students from every part of the world. An estimate says that there are more than half a million international students in Australia. Australia is the home or many prestigious institutions in every discipline of studies which attracts international students by which Australia is receiving large influx of overseas students every year.


International students have challenges in adjusting to the lifestyle, customs and academic life while studying in Australia. The issues which international students face in Australia would be less when compared to their home land.

As post graduates students studying in Victoria University we were asked to do some research on issues faced by international students studying and we were asked to do visualization of the data on international students using SAP-Lumira tool.

This research report gives a comprehensive look at different issues faced by international students in Australia. This research report addresses some of the major issues of overseas students and last gives recommendation and ends the paper with conclusion.

Data visualization is a technique for visually exploring the data. We followed the process of data driven journalism which is usually in four steps

  1. Collect Data,
  2. Filter the data,
  3. Visualization, and
  4. Story

In this research we aim to collect our data form mixture of Books, Journal articles, Australian government websites etc relating to issues faced by overseas students in Australia. Once we thought that we had enough data for this research assignment, we started to filter the data, we discarded the unnecessary and imported all the necessary data in Microsoft excel spread sheets and using those data we used SAP-Lumira tool to do some useful explanatory and exploratory visualization by which we generated a meaningful and informative story in context of issues of international students studying in Australia.

Data visualization is a good way to tell a story, in our case it is a study on international students

We narrated this study using

  1. Appropriate display media like Pie charts, bar graphs etc.
  2. Provided good information,
  3. Gave good designed display like attractive styles, colors, fonts etc.
  4. Accurately encoded the qualitative data etc. all these above mentioned features were possible using SAP-Lumira.

Using SAP-Lumira we were able to generate stunning visualisation data. We were able to visualise from large volumes of data. We were able to manipulate and were able to combine multiple data in the same view. We tried to generate a good story regarding international students using drag and drag interface of SAP-Lumira for visualisations.

The message was to first give the data of total number of students enrollement in australia by year wise and also nations wise. Then we narrowed down to students studying in different states of australia. And then we explored different issues of overseas students like unemplyment rate, safety issues, levels of loneliness among overseas students.

After observing the data we concluded our paper with some conclusion.

  • Visualization 1

Visualization 1.png

The first visualization is about total number of enrolment from 2010 to 2014(reference). It is seen that total number of international students in the year 2010 was 250994 but it fell down to 2245751 by the end of the year 2013. Student’s enrolment in 2011 and 2012 was 2310400 and 2129904 respectively. We used Bar graph for this visualization, it is evident from this visualization that enrollment of international students has been decreasing.

  • Visualisation 2

Visualization 2.png

This bar graph shows number of total students enrolled in Australia from 2010 t0 2013 in relation to different states and territory of Australia which are New south wales(NSW), Queensland(QLD), South Australia(SA), Tasmania(TAS), Victoria(Vic), Western Australia(WA), Northern Territory(NT), Australian Capital Territory(Act), and NAT.

We have abbreviations for this visualization (refer Legend in the graph).

In the year 2010, out of 2520944 enrolments, NSW was the top state with highest number of enrolments with 940431 international students and NT with lowest number of overseas students with total of 5727.

The trend was same in the following year 2011 with NSW again with highest number of international student’s enrolment with 867742 and NT with lowest number of enrolments with 5547.

In 2013 NSW had 786259 international students followed by VIC with 557011 and NT with lowest number of enrolments with 5740.

The pattern observed was same for the year 2013 with NSW leading with 822419 international students, Victoria with second highest with 589755 enrolments and as usual NT was with lowest number of students of 5672 enrollments.

With this visualization we can infer that number of enrollments in Australian states and territory has been decreasing from 2010 to 2013, in which NWS leads the list with highest number of international students followed by Victoria, second highest state with enrollments and NT has been reported as state with lowest number of enrollments compared to other states and territory.

  • Visualization 3

Visualization 3.png

This visualization we can infer that number of enrollments in Australia from other countries. The pie with depth chart graph below shows us overview of the number of international students studying in Australia in 2014. This analyze was contributed by eleven countries. There were just over 453,500 international students enrolled for different type of studies in Australia. Students from Pakistan contributed approximately 29 percent of all international students in Australia with 45380 students. It was followed by Nepal and Brazil with 20 and 19 percent respectively. From Nepal, they had 13491 students and Brazil had 14901 students. Regarding to our analyze Thai had the lowest growth in 2014 with approximately 20178 student and growth was 0.2 percent. India, Korea and China were the other countries who had higher growth than Korea, Vietnam and Malaysia.

  • Visualization 4

Visualization 4.png 

The above visualisation is a combination of both bar graph and line graph. This graph demonstrates the provision on accommodations for overseas students for years 2014 and 2015 across six major cities in Australia. For the university provision for 2014, Sydney had 7185 unit provisions in universities whereas Adelaide has lowest units provision with 1889 unit. Also in 2016 Sydney had 7296 unit provision available in university and Adelaide with 2313 units available at university.

However the statistics was different for commercial provision in 2014 and 2015. Sydney’s commercial provision was 6518 unit but this time Perth has lowest commercial provisions of 839 units. In 2016 Melbourne has highest commercial provision of 10058 units and Perth with 839 units in commercial provision.

  • Visualization 5

Visualization 5.png

Most common issue for international students was accommodation and above chart shows us for most common 3 cities for international students. As its known Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are the most popular cities recently. This visualization provides us percentage of available accommodation and percentage of required accommodation. Brisbane provides 10000 available accommodations, however still 9000 required for international students. This result followed by Melbourne with 15000 available accommodation and 5000 required. Sydney is the most popular city and provides 16000 accommodation and still needs to provide 7000 available accommodation. Regarding to our research, accommodation was the most popular issue for international students.

  • Visualization 6

Visualization 6.png

The bar chart above analyses the comparasion of rent for Australia and UK in 2014. Research data clearly point outs the different between two country. UK has been known as one of the most expensive country for many expenses. However, visualize shows us rent in Australia is even more expensive than UK. The graph shows, in the city for one bedroom hall kitchen house rent was approximetly 1.8k per month, when it was 2.0k lower for UK. Regarding to this visualization we can infer that difference for three bedroom hall kitchen type unit rent was more clear and expensive which was causing another problems for international students.  When the rent was 2.5k for UK, it was 3.1k for Australian city areas. The graph analyses diffrence for the outside of the city units which is cheaper than city, however most of the international students need to prefer living in the city with considering distance for their study places and job oppurtunities.

  • Visualization 7

Visualization 7.png

For the above visualisation we used bar graph to describe the rent spent on 1bedroom-Hall-kitchen (BHK) and 3 BHK within and outside of six major cities in Australia which are Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, and Canberra. The amount is the average of 2014, 2015 and 2016 rents.

Leasing a 1BHK in Sydney is expensive when compared to other with $2461 per month whereas Adelaide has lowest leasing amount with $1432 per month. Also the pattern can be seen same for leasing 1BHK outside the cities. Sydney (outside Sydney) leads the list with $1716 whereas Adelaide (outside Adelaide) has the lowest leasing of $982.57 per month.

When it comes to rent of 3BHK in cities, Sydney remains first with highest rent of $4727 and Adelaide with lowest rent of $2686.20 per month. Rent for3 BHK for outside the cites remains the same patterns as observed with Sydney having $2923.54 per month and Adelaide with $1488.75 per month.

  • Visualization 8

Visualization 8.png

The international education sector is very important for the Australian economy. However, there is not enough support for international student. The pie Chart above shows us percentage by issues regarding to gender and nationality. The pie chart below is result of last decade’s integration. Analyze shows us students from Singapore who has the most adaptation issues. Every student from Singapore including male and female were having problems as a result with 100 percent. Followed by Asia and Pacific with 80 percent of female student and 100 percent of male students were having problems with being an international students in Australia. Male students from North Africa, East Asia and Europe were another group of having adaptation issues with 100 percent. There were no data regarding to female students from Hong Kong which shows they were the one who didn’t have any problems with 0 percent. Regarding to our data Indıan and Indonesian male and female students were having adaptation issues equally approximately 50 percent.

  • Visualization 9

Visualization 9.png

This visualization is about the language and cultural difficulties that international students faced and still facing when they mode to other country for studies. It is clear from the graph that language and cultural difficulties that students has faced increased from 2012 to 2015 and in 2016 it is dropping down. In 2012, the average of students who faced language and cultural difficulties was 9.9%, which increased to 12.16% in year 2013 and till 2015, it increased rapidly and reached to 21.08%. In 2016, so far till June, the average is 16.33% which means number of students who have faced language and cultural difficulties this year are less compare to last year. So, it can be concluded that the average is increasing continuously from last few years and it will be increased more this year as well.

  • Visualization 10

Visualization 10.png

This visualization is about the employment opportunities that international and domestic students get. The graph visualizes the data collected in 2014. It is clear from the graph is that domestic students get more opportunities than international students. The average of job opportunity was about 80.60% for local students. On the other hand, average job opportunity for international students was 55.7%. At last, data collected in year 2014 clearly describes that local students has more career opportunities than international students.

  • Visualization 11

Visualization 11.png

The bar chart above shows us employment numbers for domestic and international students in a related field with their studies in 2014. The visualization clearly points out even though international students complete an education in Australia; their chance to work in their field is lower than domestic students. Regarding to our research results, 80% of domestic students has an opportunity to work to post graduate course work, however for international students this proportion is even lower than half of the domestic students which is approximately %30. On the other hand, it is easy to analyse that international and domestic students has similar result for post graduate higher research students.

  • Visualization 12

Visualization 12.png

This visualization is about the average total income and expenses spend by international and domestic students in year 2014. It is clear from the graph is that average total income earn by international students were less than the average total income earned by domestics students. The average total income for international student was 32452 and for domestics student was 40440 which clearly show the difference. Graph also shows about the average total expenses spent by international and domestic students. The expenses spent by international are more than the expenses spent by local students. An average of international students spending was more than $45,000 yearly and for domestic students expenses were approximately less than $30,000 which are really less compare to the expenses spent by international students. It can be concluded that international students have to spent more money than local students.

  • Visualization 13

Visualization 13.png

The above visualisation is a combination of line chart and bar graph it demonstrates the different types of expenses of students for the years 1974, 1979, 1984, 2000, 2006, 2012.

For the year 1974, students spend 43% of their expenses on rent and house hold and 10% of expenses on study related cost. The same pattern was observed in the year 1979. However in 1984 the expenses spent on rent and house hold reduced to 33% compared to 1974 where it was 43%.

The same trend is seen for the year 2000 and 2006. In 2012 the percentage of expenses on rent and household was 49%, with 22% costs on personal costs and expenses on transport and study related costs was 18% and 11% respectively.

  • Visualization 14

Visualization 14.png

The research analyses above shows us income recources for international studetns. Reseach point outs the international student has their highest income from their work fallowed by scholarship and regular allowances. Most of the international student has irregular income from cash hand jobs. The viziolization below shows us most of the international students doesn’t have family support economically.

  • Visualization 15

Visualization 15.png

This visualization shows the percentage of students that were undergoing threat, in year 2014. The graph shows the percentage for both international and domestic students. It is clear from the graph that international students are facing more issues than local students. Graph shows the percentage of students being robbed were 10% whereas percentage for domestic students were 5%. The percentage of physical attacks and physical intimidation was 11% and 20% for international students. On the other hand, percentage of physical attacks and physical intimidation for local students was 7.5% and 25%, respectively. International student who felt unsafe at work and faced verbal abused was 10% and 58%, respectively. For domestic students the percentage is comparatively low that is 5% for feeling unsafe at work and 44% for verbal abuse. It is resulted in 2014 that the international students facing more threats than domestic students.


Some of the data we collected was from a survey where the data was small in number which was the limitation for this research report. After studying various issues on overseas students studying in Australia like their availability for accommodation in major cities and outside cities, employment issues etc. Educational institutions should consider these issues. Educational institutes should organise, encourage overseas students to have some kind of activities which makes them to socialise students from overseas and domestic students to get over from culture shock, to communicating with fellow students, and allows them to understand the education systems of Australia.

For resolving accommodation issues raised by students, good and broad policies needs to implement like zero level tolerance for racial discrimination, abuses etc. which Australia has been doing this since many years but we think it should be done on regular basis by university.

Create some policies to free students from financial issues; certain work restrictions should be flexible for overseas students, which would make them financial strong so that they can overcome their financial hardship and can pay there tuition fee.

In nut shell, it is evident from our visualisations that there are some serious issues which students are facing while they are pursuing their studies. Concern departments should consider these issues and take a positive action to those issues, which make Australia to be favourite destination for students which encourage large influx of international students to come and study in Australia and which in turn improves the quality of education system in Australia with multicultural students.


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