It has been a tough economic year, not least for our industries that rely on open porous borders. Australian universities are suffering as strict border measures are having an adverse impact on the sector. International enrolments have dropped by a whopping 210,000 this year; in addition, 130,000 international students have been studying online. Ultimately, this is hurting the institutes’ finances. Revenue from international students brought $40bn into university budgets in 2019. The Mitchell Institute estimate universities suffered a 6% ($2.2bn) drop in revenue last year. While that may not sound much, it is.
Government officials within New South Wales and Victoria unveiled programmes recently that will see international students return. In NSW, 600 students will be allowed to return per month, and in Victoria, the number will be slightly less.
IDP Connect, the world’s largest third-level database, suggests that many students are opting for Canada, the US, and the UK in place of restrictive Australia based on quantitative data. However, those who are returning to Australia are increasingly worried about soaring costs. Others are worried about quarantine as the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has not recognised some vaccines. That said, the TGA has recognised the Coronavac (Sinovac) and Covishield vaccines at airport arrivals. Australian quarantine is to be organised differently in each state; free for students in NSW, but Victoria students may face a $5,000 bill. This may prove a bitter pill to swallow when all costs are added up; however, the online method cannot continue indefinitely. Borders need to open, and campuses need to be filled.