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Australia: Covid-19 restrictions could result in 50% int’l student drop

Australia is predicted to lose around half of its international student population by mid next year if the borders remain closed, according to one of Australia’s leading education think tanks. 

The loss of international students will be greater if the borders remain closed longer the reports suggest. Photo: iStock

It is important to investigate ways to ensure a quick recovery in international student enrolments

Mitchell Institute – part of Victoria University – has released two papers by Peter Hurley forecasting the impacts of the coronavirus on the international education sector and the broader economy, and making policy recommendations to drive recovery. 

“The longer the travel restrictions remain in place, the greater the losses”

“Coronavirus and international students” predicts there will be around 300,000 international students living in Australia by mid 2021, a drop of 50%, unless borders are reopened, and the loss will be even greater if the borders remain closed longer. 

“The longer the travel restrictions remain in place, the greater the losses associated with the international education sector,” the report notes.

“Modelling based on the rate of decline experienced in the first six months of the pandemic suggests that, compared to October 2019, there will be an approximate 50% reduction in international students inside Australia by July 2021.

“If the travel restrictions remain in place until July 2022, the modelling suggests about 165,000 international students will remain inside Australia, a reduction of over 410,000 compared to October 2019,” it states. 

The report uses the latest data to map the impact of the international student crisis across Australia’s cities and shows every major Australian city is experiencing a significant drop in international students. 

Hurley said Australia is facing the dual problem of fewer new international students coupled with current students leaving the country. 

The report predicts any recovery will be slow with applications for international student visas who are outside Australia are approximately 80–90% below what they were at the same time in 2019.

“This is important because applicants from outside Australia will replace those students who finish their studies and return home,” it reads.

“This suggests there will be a substantial impact on overall international student figures for some time, as new students from outside Australia are unable to start their courses.” 

He also warned the impact of Australia’s international education crisis will be felt far beyond the university sector with around 57%, or AUS$21.4 billion, of the $37.5 billion in annual revenue associated with international education coming from goods and services spent in the wider economy.

An issues paper, also authored by Hurley, entitled International Students Vital To Coronavirus Recovery outlined the longer term relationship between Australia and its international students with a significant number becoming permanent residents.

“International students from all over the world have become an integral part of our communities”

“There are international students from 199 countries in Australia. The data showing where international students live illustrates how international students from all over the world have become an integral part of our communities.

“International students are also future Australians. Every year approximately 13,000 to 30,000 international students transition to permanent residency visas. Of international students granted a visa between 2000/01 and 2013/14, 16% transitioned to a permanent residency visa at some stage after arriving in Australia.”

He warned the Covid-19 pandemic is an extraordinary situation that requires extraordinary action and it is important to investigate ways to ensure a quick recovery in international student enrolments and to support education institutions so they can continue to function properly.

Continuing to involve international student representatives in the coronavirus response is essential, according to Hurley.

His paper states that it “equips policy makers with a better understanding of the issues facing international students”.

“It will also increase the effectiveness of initiatives that support a recovery in international student enrolments,” the paper adds.

Investigating ways to encourage new international student enrolments when travel restrictions end, increasing capacity across the tertiary education sector so institutions can provide domestic students with the training needed to reskill and upskill, and supporting current international students are also recommended.

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24 Responses to Australia: Covid-19 restrictions could result in 50% int’l student drop

  1. That’s indeed a good article and should act as a roadmap for Australian government. This and all such pandemics should not succeed in halting the system, because these may prolong, who knows! To me, we have to live with this New Normal and should keep moving. Otherwise, the losses will be far higher than your estimations.

  2. Due to covid situation my family is devastated and my wife’s stuck in India. I applied exemption for 14times till they are not considering my request. I don’t know should Someone die or get ill in our family so that they give an exemption? This is so ridiculous strategy by ADF and DHA. They have to put a cap n allow students enter Australia, quarantine them and allow another set of batch like every country.

  3. Please open Australia borders and allow international students to enter Australia as soon as possible. Like other countries do , take them in batch by batch and quarentine them . This is a pandemic that whole world is suffering and no one is making these much restrictions in Students education and career . Moreover Australia is one of the best choice of international students. So please don’t make a career break in them , And help them as soon as possible . Thank you

  4. I agree, Australia should definitely open borders soon. at this rate international students stuck abroad are feeling neglected as there is barely any information regarding international students returning to Australia. I started first year online. Online learning is definitely difficult and if it continues online id rather start off in another uni since im only one semester in, i wouldn’t wanna risk the next semester and future results.

  5. Australian government should start thinking about opening borders. It’s raining outside from past 7-8 days and I will get wet and ill, if I step outside my house therefore I should remain indoors for no matter how many more days is not solution to the problem. U just can’t stop doing anything and hide in hole with the fear of getting killed. Rather you should plan things and start fighting with it in order to move forward. Humans in 21st century are highly capable of tackling such situations but they are not ready to get scared and stop doing anything.

  6. international students also need to be cared,just take the quarantine for them, please re-open again for international students first as They are waiting so long right now.

  7. Students like us waiting for border reopening.but Australian govt should mind it students will not waiting for should think from them side too.they are already invested their money and time. Plz open borders like other countries open.

  8. Pls open border of australia, my sister is sick there with 2 kids. I was with her since 2014. I stuck in India now. I don’t what can I do. Its really hard for her to take care of kids without my help becuse my bro in law is full time worker and he can’t stay home for long time due to sponsor ship by his boss. Pls help us and open the borders. Already many new International students jump to Canada for studies instead of australia.

  9. While I admire the stringent measures taken by the Australian government to effectively manage the coronavirus cases, Australia should slowly begin to open borders with an emphasis on strict quarantine measures. This pandemic is crippling economies all over the world and the educational sector is obviously one of the most affected. This pandemic should not hinder students from learning. I suggest slowly opening the borders while quarantine measures are implemented. In this way, it’s a win-win situation for Australia’s economy and aspiring students.

  10. If only we know that Australia is not yet opening boarders, maybe Many of us already transfered in CANADA all though CANADA is in lockdown their boarders are still open for international student to arrived in CANADA please give International Students a consideration, we need to learn not only online class. We have invested a lot of money just to atudy in your country, so please. Open your boarder For international students, this is the new normal now, we should accept it and heal as one!! 🙏🥺

  11. The Permanent Resident Visa is the most important motivation for international students to join Australian Universities. With the drastic reduction in the number of PRs , most of the students don’t find any reason to join the Australian Universities anymore. Moreover, no effort has been put in by the authorities to encourage the employers to accept the post study work visa holders.

  12. Unfortunately, the only recent sources of COVID in the Australian community has been from returned travellers in hotel quarantine. The small outbreaks in Melbourne and Adelaide have cost billions of dollars.

    The government is not going to risk returning students right now and hoping that the quarantine works.

    • I agree with you, they should let the international students come in. I got into my dream school and program a few weeks ago and now they aren’t allowing international students and neither deferring my admission status to next semester. I have to be there before Jan 25th if I want to start but prevented from entering the country. I am really stressed out and don’t know what to do.

  13. My intake is on 22nd March,2021 for a course: Master of Technology Software Engineering. I have almost completed my documentation and proceeding for biometric soon. But, due to the pandemic, Australia is not opening it’s border for international students which is resulting me in total confusion regarding my arrival to take class on campus. I think it is really mandatory for Australian government to open it’s border for international students which ultimately enhance a lot in the education sector and even boost the economy of Australia.

  14. I suggest Australia to reopen their borders please for the international students..they are willing to go for mandatory quarantine…the Australia government can also mandate then to do the PCR test before coming to Australia along with the 2 weeks quarantine after arrival. This will enable Australia educational sector to recover from her losses and also stabilize the economy.
    Please Australian government hear the cries of the international students..we are frustrated and we really desire to come and start/continue our studies..thanks

  15. I also suggest that Australia reopens their border to international students. I got into my dream program and now being prevented from entering. The university isn’t allowing the students to defer their admission status. I am so shocked and sad. I’ve been crying and stressing since last week as I don’t know what to do. I was waiting for this news for so long and now this happens. I understand it is important to follow preventive protocols and willing to quarantine myself for two weeks if allowed in.

  16. We havent thought that australian government will behave like this to international students …they behave like they just care of their citizens only…the international students are their main source to handle the nations economy…all other countries have already started to bring back students with maintaing quarantine facilities and pcr test before travelling to the country…please do the same and help us to live with our family ..its been so long we havent been together..she is feeling depressed and geeting so much harder for her to stay….please australian goverment make the arrangement to bring back the students ….many students are feeling depressed ..they are facing lot of problems..please bring back the student….

    Lets make this trend all over the world

  17. It’s my prayer that Australia can consider international students, I received my visa to join my dream school in Adelaide, orientation is on February 2021.kindly consider international students, even if it means Quarantine at your own cost.

  18. How did it get to the situation whereby Australia’s economy became so dependent upon importing international student to sustain/propel it? Alas, those ardent advocates pushing the International Student Industry ignore the immense negative consequences upon Australia’s economy and, it’s social fabric from OVERDOSING on IS’s.

    Regards those matters entails two aspects. First, with how the international students who have swarmed into Australia over he past 5 to 7 years has displaced Australians from getting places in these institutions in their OWN country.

    Secondly, because 75% of the 850,000 international students here have to work to survive means they not only TAKE low-skilled jobs from Australians but also work for cash-in-hand rates of pay that are about 70% below what should be paid. With the worst offenders with that being those from the Subcontinent.

  19. Please open the borders for indian international students . It’s big loss of international students who are studying online and new visa holders students who do not start their students because of online studies. International students apply in abroad Universities because they want to learn some practical skills, experiences but ban international travel for students, it’s big loss of the students.
    So, please allow come to students atleast.

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