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Australia: shift from economic benefits of hosting internationals needed

Benefits of hosting international students in Australia need to go beyond economic ones, and cultural and workforce contributions need to be more widely recognised, according to speakers at a recent Australian Intercultural Society event.

International education is a channel that can inject large numbers of high skilled workers into Australia, CISA suggested. Photo: pexels

There are still questions over how quickly the Australian sector will bounce back in the aftermath of the pandemic

“There are so many other elements that sit alongside the economic one,” explained Helen Forbes-Mewett research leader of Identity and Belonging at the Monash University Migration and Inclusion Centre.

“We cant deny the economic one, it is extremely important, but then so are all the other elements.”

Additional benefits include cultural perspectives and the creation of international connections, she posited.

“There is really an imbalance on the appreciation of the sector beyond the economic value”

“There is really an imbalance on the appreciation of the sector beyond the economic value that we have to rethink,” said Belle Lim, national president at the Council of International Students Australia.

“Significant cultural contributions” are not regularly talked about or appreciated enough, she continued, while economic benefits are often misperceived as only benefiting universities or the education sector.

“Apart from international education, I cannot really think about a way or a channel that can inject such a large number of high skilled workers and individuals into Australia that really power the productivity growth,” she added.

“International education employs five times the number of workers as coal mining, but you don’t see members of politics or community vehemently defend a sector… like those [that receive] massive subsidies.”

“We need to see students as being much more than just an economic contribution,” agreed Wesa Chau CEO of Cultural Intelligence and founder of Resilience Against Racism.

“I would be controversial to say, people don’t even treat them as customers. If you see [international students] as customers, you would provide them with the support… but we don’t even do that very well.”

Australia’s approach to international students has “shifted dramatically” in the decades since students first arrived under the Colombo plan for cultural and diplomatic reasons, Forbes-Mewett noted.

“Then it became very economic. I think there is probably a need to shift back somewhere more in between in a sense.”

The pandemic has been a wake up call that the role of the international education sector needs a rethink, Lim suggested.

“I agree that the sector, over time, it seems like the most important or only role is to bring in revenue to Australia, and in fact that is not the most important role I would argue.

“There is a very important role to educate and train the future leaders of the workforce for Australia and the rest of the world. We come from so many different countries. There is a very important part that Australia is playing in the leadership role of the Asia Pacific region in this sense.”

There are still questions over how quickly the Australian sector will bounce back in the aftermath of the pandemic.

“They have already gone to other countries like the UK and Canada”

“I would say that Australia’s reputation has been hit quite badly. I know there are a lot of students who are starting university around this time, they were coming to Australia but Australia is no longer an option for them,” Lim stated.

“They have already gone to other countries like the UK and Canada, and they have been seen as a lot more welcoming to international students… International students coming back to Australia is not going to be a V-shape recovery, it’s going to take a long time.”

Surveys have indicated that agents had “all but written off” travel to Australia and New Zealand in 2021, with students turning to the US, Canada and the UK.

However, students can see a “bigger picture”, Forbes-Mewett contended.

“Where we are geographically placed, we are a good place to be, we are generally a safe place to be, and I think all of that is weighed up against other options, I think at the moment some student may be thinking they will go somewhere else, but as soon as we make it possible to bring those students back, I think they will come back,” she said.

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23 Responses to Australia: shift from economic benefits of hosting internationals needed

  1. I think you should just allow every international student to enter Australia provided they hold and Australian Visa.
    Just follow the procedures and upon arrival they should be quarantine for 14 days.

  2. We are definitely not coming, I’ve withdrawn my admission and going to either UK or Canada. We have wasted more than a year and done bring treated as cash cows, we’ll give our best to advise others not to take Australia as international studies option cause you’ll find them silent when they need you and as learnered from this pandemic we are nothing but CASH COWS to them. They don’t case about us at all and destroyed our future.

  3. The country who couldn’t bring back their citizens on time, how can we expect them to bring back international students.

  4. It is inevitable that this pendimic effects worse but now it’s over. People are not dying, so I think Government should think about the future generations. Thanks!

  5. Australia isn’t supporting temporary residents who have studied in Australia and is currently working and paying their taxes. The country doesn’t care about the emotional and mental stress that temporary residents and students deal with during visa processes. The long wait and expensive process burns people out. Other countries are so much more faster, more supportive and comparatively less expensive.

  6. Dnt rely on agents and Australia as they are offering many scholarship and even didn’t think of students and hard earned money of their parents . They just wasted the time and carriers.

  7. UK US and Canada is much cheaper for cost of studies and their children can studies in school for free if their parents take Master or PHD.

  8. I am in Australia and thinking of leaving this country as it doesn’t value my talent. It just need me when i achieve but not when i am in struggling phase. I wanna be a doctor but they think that able to remain here is more imp than study. I will say not to come to Australia from this brutal experience

  9. What’s the big deal about bringing international students back? You allowed tennis to be played buy when it comes to int’l students is where you set standards? Threatening to cancel CoEs so that students can enroll online won’t work, they would rather withdraw and get a refund to take the money to more respectful destinations like Canada and the UK.

    • Lol. You guys literally thrive on the centrelink payments which is generated through the tax paid by international students or immigrant employs. Real estate and house owners rely on the rent paid by us . go and check how the value of the apartments have declined since the owners and agents, and student accomodation providers literally don’t have any tenants . Don’t be delusional by saying it’s a blatant lie that students contribute to 40 billion dollar economy. Real esta

  10. I say good riddance the majority of Australians are fed up with being told how important the educational sector is and how it’s a 40 billion dollar export which is a blatant lie ,this pandemic has exposed that in that the majority of students needed jobs to pay for their turion and living expenses..If money is earnt here it’s not an export ,I wonder how many of these so called students would be here if there no work rights or pathway to residency .

  11. 20 years experience with international students, they will be back with bells on as soon as it is appropriateto allow them back.
    Australia is SAFE which is all parents number 1 priority, disappointed to see the other comments here, your education isn’t all about money, its about learning a new culture and gaining flexibility.
    As for treating any student as a “customer” domestic or international, no thank you, learning is about humility and challenging yourself, not encouraging entitlement.

  12. It appears that the Australian Government is way out of touch with its people & what is truly happening with the economy. that It is very shameful and sad that the Australian Government has even banned its own citizens, Australians from coming back to Australia.
    My daughter a student at Sydney Uni has and will complete her Bachelors Degree online from overseas.

    In view of the above, we sent our son, also an Australian to The Netherlands who welcomed him to start his Bachelors Degree this August 2021, and all he had to undergo was a brief quarantine.
    What a difference in mind set between the two governments.

  13. Well, in future Australia should not be the good choice for students. They don’t care about students. They say, if students are suffering let them suffer but we should be isolated from the world. Me and many of my friends have been diverted since they are giving false hope to students. Whenever it comes to admission time they announce we are going to open the boarders latter the government again changes his decision. It’s my brotherly advice to students it’s time to change your route but not goals. We can achieve our goals any where else in the world such as UK, Canada, US. They have the best educational sectors and trust me you won’t regret. But it is regretful later if are wasting your time and money for Australia. The most important thing is that time is money don’t waste it.

  14. They don’t give a shit about International Students.They only need money.They gave us Visa and now telling us to do online study. Don’t apply to this country apply UK or Canada. These are countries who know how to treat their international students. You only have to quarantine 14days. Thats it. It’s just simple. I repeat Don’t Apply for Australia.

  15. I think its high time international students are asked to visit their respective universities. Being a small country with such an insignificant amount of population is taking months to vaccinate its people. I’m from India and we are vaccinating 10 million people everyday. Atleast call the students who are fully vaccinated. We are paying an obscene amount of money only to study online. I have been waiting to go to Australia since last year July. It has started to affect the mental health of so many students. Who is going to take the responsibility of that? I really wanna go to australia and that’s why I’m not applying to any other country. But if things don’t get better by the end of this year I will leave Australia for sure.

  16. We know that many international students will not come to Australia. But we also know now that the Delta variant from India can destroy economies (see Sydney) and lives.

    We need high vaccine rates and better processes than countries that have opened up already (look at the US and UK). Their deaths, long COVID and economic destruction will take generations to recover from.

    I live where there is no COVID and everything is open. This is bad for overseas students but good for the people who live here. We don’t want what your country is going through, so nothing will happen until 2022.

  17. Even though Australia has many visa options for pathways to permanent residency, they are not competitive as compare to Canada. Both countries has almost same relative size of population. However, Canada is doing so much trying to retain quality international students to become Canada resident. Their visa assessment is much flexible and they have high number of visa allocation. Australia on other hand seems to treat international students as cash cow. Visa option for international student is limited and conditions are restrictive. It just gives a feeling that quality international students are not welcome to stay after finishing their education.

  18. I agreed with some commentators here that prospective students should look to other countries for education instead of Australia. They do not treat international students fairly under the pandemic situation. Some students work part time and contribute to their community. When pandemic strikes, they receive no supports or assistance. Who knows if pandemic will come back again in the future, international students will suffer again.

  19. A lot of engineers with PR find it very hard to get engineering jobs in Australia because of discrimination. If you are above 50, forget it. There is so much ageism. I have an Indian friend here, a citizen who lost her job in her fifties. She was an experienced social worker with two degrees. She got nowhere after applying for thousands of jobs. Finally had a breakdown and was hospitalised for depression.

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