Australia’s Vaccination Rate Will Determine the Return of International Students: Federal Government

 Australia’s Vaccination Rate Will Determine the Return of International Students: Federal Government

Enrolment of international students in Australian Universities has declined sharply during the pandemic.

However, the Minister for Education Alan Tudge is confident that the dismal numbers will improve when the borders open. He confirmed that the plan is to reopen international borders when 70% of the Australian population is double vaccinated. Nevertheless, the members of the Indian community are requesting further clarification concerning the timeline and plan for students stranded abroad.

“Our vaccination rates continue to increase, so too will our ability to welcome back international students,” Mr Alan Tudge stated at a summit.

“The next milestone we need to reach is 70 per cent of the eligible population [to be] fully-vaccinated – that will take us into the transition phase where we can allow greater capped entry of student visa holders, subject to quarantine arrangements and availability,” Minister Tudge said.

“When our borders start to open, I am confident that students will return in significant numbers,” he added.

However, at present, the future of the trapped international students is still unsure.

Alan Tudge

It has been annoying and a long wait for Chetna Wadhawan, who happened to be a stranded final year biomedical science student at Deakin University.

 “Due to border closures, I have had to drop three units which are practical subjects. I will have to take them up when I’m back in Australia as I don’t want to miss out on those skills. I have no idea when I can return,”

“If I weren’t in my final semester, I would have surely taken a transfer to a Canadian university like many people have done,”

Quite a large number of students have not been able to start their courses due to the closure of the Australian borders.

Minister Tudge admitted during the summit that the enrolment of Indian students has dropped by 55%, compared to that of last year.

“Even if international students roared back in 2022, the impact of the massive decline in commencing students (36.5 per cent since June 2019) will still be felt for several years”.

Mr Tudge said that the enrolment numbers from the Chinese students were up 9.5% compared to last year. He stated further that his department’s analysis had discovered that “those universities that maintained relatively good investment income and were predominantly reliant on Chinese students, as opposed to students from other countries, have maintained very strong financial positions”.

“During the pandemic to date, if you mainly enrolled Chinese students, you maintained a stronger financial position”.

“As of now, any future decisions on [an] international student return plan will be guided by expert health advice and in alignment with all government directives”.

Many universities have felt a sharp decline in the number of international students enrolments.

A representative of Latrobe University reported that Indian students – especially the postgraduates – form a valued and large cohort of its international students.

“We look forward to welcoming international students back to La Trobe once it is safe to do so”.

Presently, the university opined that it was trying to hand over the courses to all the onshore and offshore students through a student support model and long-drawn-out online teaching.

Priyam Chatterjee

Related post