Alan Tudge Says Australia Is Trying to Move Forward With Overseas Student Return Plans Despite Lockdown

Efforts are being made to launch student pilot plans in order to facilitate international students’ return to Australia despite the extended lockdowns in Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney, Darwin, the Australian Education Minister Alan Tudge said.

He stressed that South Australia and New South Wales have submitted their student arrival plans which have already received the approval of premiers and chief health officers. Tudge described these plans as “very good”, Erudera.com reports.

“New South Wales is obviously now focused on the current outbreak and getting out of lockdown,” Tudge said on August 16.

According to him, having 70 percent of the population vaccinated will help the country enter a transition phase and allow student visa holders’ return. At the same time, Tudge pointed out that Australia should work on providing a diverse environment when international students return to universities as well as to make sure that both international and domestic students have a great student experience.

“When our borders start to open, I am confident that students will return in significant numbers.  The international student experience data that I released recently supports this conclusion, showing that 91% rated their overall living experience in Australia highly,” Tudge added.

Due to border closure, Australia has experienced a decrease in the number of international students. Last year, the number of commencements from Indian students, which is one of the top sending countries, dropped 55 percent.

Most recently, India’s high commissioner to Australia, Manpreet Vohra, said that Australia could
negatively affect its reputation as a study destination among international students, especially Indian students, due to pandemic restrictions being in force for quite some time now as well as the lack of information provided to students about end of restrictions.

According to an analysis of the financial and international data conducted by Tudge’s department, the impact of the sharp decline in the number of commencements “will still be felt for several years.”

The leading provider of international education, the Study Group Australia, pointed out that Australia’s continuous focus on the economic contribution could harm Australia’s education reputation, adding that these students’ contribution is “far richer and broader.” 

On the other hand, Tudge said that most universities in Australia began the academic year financially strong under the government’s assistance.

According to the International Education Association data, during the past financial year, Australia faced the loss of 100,000 international students, causing the Australian economy $60,000 loss from each student, the International Education Association data have shown.

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