A reset button needs to be hit if Australia wants to prevent Canada, the US, and the United Kingdom from attracting more international students in the upcoming academic years, the Managing Director of the leading provider of international education, the Study Group Australia Alex Chevrolle said.
“Our persistent focus on the economic contribution merely reinforces a negative perception that we treat them as cash cows who don’t deserve the rights we would afford to potential citizens,” Chevrolle said.
According to him, international students are very important for Australian society, however, the country’s continuous focus on their economic impact could damage Australia’s education reputation, Erudera.com reports.
“Much of the education sector’s focus on international students has been short term and dollar focused, but their contribution is far richer and broader. They are talented, future Australians making a big human contribution as part of our community,” he added.
Chevrolle also said that Australia should welcome international students again and make them feel positive about their new home, claiming that this is very important for a more prosperous country for all citizens.
According to a 2015 Deloitte Access Economics report named “Value of International Education to Australia,” Australia and its society could have many benefits from international students, including:
- economic benefits from increased entrepreneurship
- exchange of knowledge & international partnerships
- trade and investment benefits
- social benefits from improved cultural literacy
The report pointed out that during 2015, international students increased the number of the Australian workforce to 130,000 skilled workers, with at least 5 percent of those people living and pursuing studies in regional areas.
Australia had been struggling to bring international students back for quite some time now, negatively affecting its higher education reputation as well as higher education institutions’ revenues.
A spokesperson for the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment earlier told Erudera that the government had discussed the possible return of international students with the Australian states and territories, emphasizing that international students will return “when the conditions allow.”
“Bringing Australians home – especially vulnerable Australians remains the Australian Government’s priority,” the spokesperson said.
Most recently, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian confirmed that New South Wales has paused the plans to return international students back to the state while it remains in lockdown. She said that the government would not do anything to “compromise its ability to exit the lockdown” as early as possible.