Fearful of Travel Restrictions, Int’l Students Hesitating to Return to Australia

Many international students have decided not to return to Australia and resume their studies later in 2021, feeling fearful about travel restrictions and online teaching.

Yet, Australian universities, along with the federal government, have in despair encouraged international students’ return to the country during the next year, Erudera College News reports.

Due to travel restrictions, Katherine Qi, a student at UNSW, was forced to stay in China as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, also feeling that this year, the quality of education has been affected.

Due to this and the lack of support from universities, she is now hesitant to return to the country next year, even if there is border restrictions lifting.

According to her, being with the family has made the difference during these tough times, as they have offered her a lot of emotional support during her studies, especially in exam times.

“I need to make it back at some point, or I can’t graduate. I still have lab classes to do that are only run on-campus. The most annoying thing is that UNSW hasn’t said what will happen to us if we can’t make it back,” she told the Herald.

Whereas a UNSW spokesman stated that lessons in 2021 would continue to be in the remote version, yet many classes would also be held in-person. He added that the digital versions could be offered for international students who are not staying in Australia.

According to the President of UNSW Chinese Student Association, Evan Li, the absence of confidence among students regarding the teaching methods as well as border restrictions, had impacted the patience of international students expected to continue studies in Australia.

In the meantime, the Mitchell Institute data predict that there will be 300,000 fewer international students by July in Australia, in case the travel restrictions remain in force.

The institute’s education policy fellow Peter Hurley said that international students bring social and economic benefits to the country; thus, students’ interest is their interest as well. He added that it is very important to find the best ways to support international students.

At the end of November, under a pilot program of Australia’s government, the first cohort of international students arrived in Darwin for the first time since the beginning of pandemic and border closure in March.

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