International students will not be allowed to return to Australia until the first semester of 2022. However, following the Chief Health Officer’s instructions, universities can individually return their students by providing a coherent plan and safe quarantine facilities.
The Education Minister, Alan Tudge, shared the news at the RMIT city campus while presenting the Education Strategy for 2021 to 2030, Erudera.com reports.
“The return could occur if an institution works with the state or territory government and presents a plan to us for quarantining international students. The plan must be approved by the Chief Health Officer of the state or territory, and there must be quarantine space available above and beyond that presently used for returning Australians,” Minister Tudge stated.
During his speech, the Minister said that the department is following medical experts’ health advice ever since the pandemic started; thus, he cannot provide a specific time when international students can return to campuses without consulting the medical authorities.
According to the Head of Education Department, the new strategy will focus on international education recovery and its longer-term development, as Federal Ministers and Expert Members agreed on last December.
While presenting the strategy, Minister Tudge shared four objectives of international education, which are:
- To provide revenue for institutions and the economy
- To enhance the learning experience of Australian students
- To ensure that Australia has the supply of workforce skills that we need to continue to power our economic growth
- To strengthen our people-to-people connections with other nations and support their development
When elaborating the objectives, the Minister said Australia does provide enough revenue for institutions and the economy, but there could still be improvements. The second objective could be successfully achieved if the classrooms were more diverse, with a mix of international and domestic students.
Speaking on the third objective, Minister Tudge shared that the country has to ensure international enrollment matches its future skills requirements.
According to the National Skills Commission, Australia’s most needed skills are data and digital specialists, the health professions, and energy engineers. But, half of the international students choose to focus on engineering, maths, technology, and fewer students pursue the health sector.
Finally, the fourth objective of linkages and supporting the development of other nations, Minister Turdge said that there could be done more by diversifying the education delivery models and reaching new markets globally.
“I again believe there are opportunities to do more, particularly by extending further the reach of our education systems to beyond in-country learning,” he said.
According to Minister Tudge, international education added $37.5 billion to Australia’s economy last year, making it possible to support 250,000 jobs and ranking Australia as the third largest international education provider globally.
In 2019, 480,000 international students continued attending studies in Australia. About 150,000 students entered the country to study during the first half of 2019, and 130,000 enrolled later in the year. While some students started online, many also postponed their studies, preferring to wait until travel is possible again.
The pandemic affected the international education sector in Australia by bringing it down to seven percent, which means that international enrollment at Australian universities in 2020 was about the same as in 2018.
Earlier this week, Minister Tudge said that international students from India could enter the country according to the vaccine regime in their home country during the virtual “Study in Australia” meet. Speaking for participants in the webinar, Minister Tudge already warned that international students could not return to campuses until 2022.
The statement followed the Indian international students’ protests in New Delhi, in which students asked for the Government to open its borders for 164,000 visa holders, subjected to studies stagnation and high costing housing expenses that they are not utilizing.