The Central Queensland University (CQU) has called the National Cabinet to develop an immediate plan on returning international students to Australia.
The University’s Vice-Chancellor Nick Klomp has expressed criticism over the absence of a “staged and strategic” national plan on bringing back international students to the Australian universities, Erudera College News reports.
“We don’t even have a coherent national plan despite it being Australia’s third-largest export industry worth $38 billion every year,” he said.
According to him, it is necessary to discuss such a plan at the National Cabinet, but the same plan needs to be supported by states and local regions which are involved.
Whereas, the International Education Association of Australia Chief Executive Phil Honeywood also reiterated the call, claiming that there has been a complete lack of political will to save international education.
“All of this can be done at no cost to the taxpayer, but we’re now in danger of losing a second academic year while our competitor study destination countries have stayed open for business,” Honeywood said.
Klomp said that according to CQU estimation, only 25 per cent of university’s usual number of international students would pursue studies this year, with a part of them studying remotely from their home countries and others remaining in Australia to complete their degrees.
This comes as the tertiary sector is continuing to stagnate as a result of international students’ loss amid COVID-19, which as predicted last year by Universities Australia would cost the education sector a total amount of $16 billion by 2023.
On January 28, the Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge told the Sky News that Australia’s main priority was to welcome back the Australians remaining overseas and ensure them a safe return.
He added that despite the fact that he wants to see international students in Australia, it is very hard to predict when they will be allowed to return in significant numbers again. According to him, a successful vaccine would impact international students’ return to the country.
Recently, thousands of international students have signed a petition delivered to the House of Representatives, asking for exemptions from COVID-19 travel border restrictions in Australia, claiming that they have been affected by the bad quality of remote learning.