Dirk Mulder calls it: international education is on the way back

Education Minister Alan Tudge says there is a lot of hope on the horizon


Remember the date: Monday, September 13, 2021.

It was on this day English Australia opened its annual conference, with Minister for Education and Youth, Alan Tudge making the opening remarks to the online forum.

Participants at the conference had front row seats at the watershed in Australia’s outlook when it comes to international students in the context of the pandemic.

The proverbial can wasn’t kicked down the road. The message wasn’t that it was too hard. Mr Tudge did not try to complicate the return with complex quarantining negotiations or even pass the buck to the states.

The message, and mark this date in the calendar for the record, was optimism about opening borders and a return of international students.

It was a clear change in outlook and policy for the government.

The optimism rests firmly on the back of increasing vaccination rates domestically and alternate quarantine measures that are currently being investigated in an attempt to open up capacity for entry.

These initiatives, including vaccination certificates being connected to passports, provide certainty for the government in knowing who is coming into the country and their vaccination status.

Mr Tudge said, “we are getting close to hitting the key vaccination targets of 70 per cent and 80 per cent and that is when the economy opens, and international borders can be more open including for international students which are specifically mentioned in the national plan”.

He went on to say, “there is a lot of hope on the horizon”.

However, the best bit was left for last…. and it’s something all members of the international education community have asked for since the pandemic began: leaders; teachers; and students a-like.

The minster stated international students and international education was important to the national interest.

His words were “international education is a really key part of our society educating people who come into this country, building up their skills for further study and many of those go on and become great Australians”.

With international diplomacy proving difficult for the government in recent times – thinking the China relationship and last week’s handling of the French submarine contract it is certainly a step in the right direction in stating what so many have been asking for so long: positive messaging. Furthermore, it underscores what all in the sector believe to be the foundation stone of the Australian offer –making student welcome.

Minister, well done.

Dirk Mulder advises education and business clients on trends in international education. He writes regularly for CMM