93 percent of Australia’s international students stranded abroad have reported mental health problems due to lack of in-person classes, a Council of International Student Australia (CISA) survey has revealed.
The poll including over 600 students has also found that 36 percent of participants are considering or have decided to choose another country to pursue their studies, Erudera.com reports.
Following the survey results, the CISA national president Belle Lim said that the organization has constantly been reached by students stranded abroad during the past 12 months, adding that the latter have expressed worries about their situation.
She claimed that students’ learning experience had been hindered due to technical issues such as working in time zones as well as the uncertainty about returning to on-campus classes.
“These students, they pay a lot in tuition fees. They are not able to access the education that they paid for and some feel guilt for spending their parents’ money or savings [on what they are getting],” Lim told SBS News.
She further said that they have been receiving students’ messages which were quite difficult to read, asking for information about when they will be allowed to return to Australia.
“They asked for answers, saying: ‘tell us when we can come back because I can’t plan my life or live like this anymore.”
Based on last week’s federal budget, the gradual return of permanent or temporary migrants to Australia is expected to take place from mid-2022. Nevertheless, the Australian government said that a phased return of a group of international students could start later this year, but according to Lim, it isn’t still certain, and the government has not set any timeline yet for when students can return to campuses.
A previous survey, including 6,000 potential international students carried out by the student recruitment agency IDP, has shown that only seven percent of students prefer to study online, whereas 43 percent said they would defer studies until being able to return to in-person learning.
Victoria became the first state to present a plan over the return of international students for which the Education Minister Alan Tudge, said “we’ll carefully look at it,” advising the government to be “very cautious” about it, taking into account that COVID-19 is taking thousands of lives daily.
Australia has experienced a huge decrease in the number of international enrolments compared to a year earlier, with 43 fewer students enrolled at the country’s universities.