Claire Field’s five reasons for optimism that international students will return


 Now is the time for providers and jurisdictions to make their support for students even more visible

Friday afternoon’s news, that the National Cabinet had agreed a framework to restart the economy , which included international students coming to Australia, was a good way to end the week.

While there is no timetable for when we will see new students arriving – we now know that they are on the government’s radar and seen as a key component in restarting the Australian economy.

This news, combined with the factors below, has seen me start to shelve my earlier pessimism (CMM 8 April 2020) about how prospective students, their families and overseas governments would perceive Australia as a study destination.

That is because:

* Australia is successfully managing the virus (in contrast with the US and UK)

* cracks are emerging in the support being offered to international students in the UK and Canada

* there is an impressive level of support being offered to international students by providers and state/territory governments (New South Wales is the outlier, being the only jurisdiction not to offer financial support)

* current students will be able to safely return to work and face-to-face study earlier than in other countries, and

* early research from IDP shows prospective students looking to continue with their future study plans.

The peak body for the independent higher education sector, IHEA, has done an excellent job compiling all the support available in each jurisdiction and, with the exception of the Premier State, the list is impressive.

Now is the time for providers and jurisdictions to make their support for students even more visible.

And for the small number of providers who have not offered students support during the crisis – I hope the generosity of those who care about their students shines through in future enrolment numbers.

Claire Field advises on VET, international education and private higher education.