The Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge has expressed support for New South Wales’s plan on the return of international students to universities across the state, describing it as a “good one” and almost ready to proceed, yet highlighted that it had to be paused due to the Delta virus outbreak and Sydney announcing lockdown.
Following NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s decision to pause the plans on returning international students to the state until lockdown ends, Tudge said that it was the “right approach” as NSW is currently focused on reducing the number of COVID-19 cases and getting out of the lockdown. However, he added that it is up to the Berejiklian government to decide when the plan is ready to go.
While announcing the pause on the proposal, Premier Berejiklian said that the government would not do anything to “compromise its ability to exit the lockdown.” Under the plan, 250 international students were expected to return to the state every fortnight, Erudera.com reports.
“We’d looked at that closely, and that [plan] was almost ready to be executed, to be honest. Now, obviously there has been a pause to that, due to the present lockdowns in Sydney,” Tudge told Sky News.
Furthermore, he pointed out that over the last few weeks, many plans had to be interrupted as the main focus of the country is to recover from the Delta variant and be able to open the economy soon.
Up to now, only South Australia’s plan on the return of international students was approved by the Federal Government in a bid to help the Australian education sector recover, which over the past years has lost $10 billion.
Australia continues to struggle to return international students back, hurting its reputation for education as well as the revenues of the country’s higher education institutions. According to The Study Group Australia, the country might lose many international students during the upcoming academic years if it shifts its focus only to the economic contribution.
“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,” the Managing Director of the Study Group Australia Alex Chevrolle said.
International students in Australia had contributed $30 billion to the country’s economy, compared to 2019, when the Australian economy received $40 billion from international students. According to deferral education data published most recently, such a decrease was triggered by the loss of 100,000 international students in the past year.