TREND 1: Covid-19 and its huge upset to mobility & welfare
At the end of January, The PIE ran our first story on Covid-19, a virus that was yet to be named. The story focused on the impact on Chinese citizens, the cancellation of tests and language proficiency exams and the knock-on restrictions to global student flows.
“Covid-19 emerged as a global pandemic and disruptor”
With Australia’s academic year beginning in late January, the country seemed to be on the frontline of admissions and entry upset as many parts of China ground to a standstill.
Soon after, however, Covid-19 emerged as a global pandemic and disruptor and travel bans were put in place in countries around the world. International students and citizens currently overseas were urged by many governments to return to their home countries.
Stories about sudden and difficult journeys home before travel bans came into force peppered the media landscape for a while.
In terms of policy adjustments, a number of countries were swift (or not) to adjust rules so that students studying online – be that in the host country or offshore in their home country – would not lose their rights or status as a full-time international student (or lose any post-study labour market access that would ensue).
At the same, dual stories emerged relating to international student wellbeing and their contribution to the adopted communities in which they may still be living in.
- There was a real need for student hardship funds and support as the gig economy and part-time jobs in retail and hospitality collapsed, impacting students day-to-day needs in an unforeseen manner.
- In major destinations Canada, the UK and Australia, international students were told they could work longer than their usual part-time hours limit if working in aged care, health care, or possibly in retail (Australia).
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