Government abandons international education for the year

The PM made it clear, again, that international student arrivals aren’t a priority

Mr Morrison’s National Cabinet communique (Friday) commenced that the meeting had, “reaffirmed a shared priority to supporting Australians to return home.”

And while international arrival caps will be reviewed at the next National Cabinet meeting they are unchanged until end April. Mr Morrison also mentioned expanding quarantine capacity at Howard Springs in the NT after cyclone season but it seems there will be ample Australians to fill it up for the rest of the year. The PM added the Commonwealth would, “continue to support repatriation flights for Australians through to the end of 2021, as required.”

That crunching sound you heard was the government throwing providers under a bus

After National Cabinet, the PM took questions. This is what he said when asked if there was, “an update on foreign students.”

“No, there’s no change on that front. It would be good if we could get to that point, but at this stage we’re not at that point. … We have always been happy to work with the international education sector if they want to put in place supplementary self-funded quarantine arrangements and flight arrangements. That has always been there for the international education industry, the large universities and others to go down that path. They haven’t chosen to go down that path. Our focus has remained on the responsibilities we have as a Commonwealth.”

Given dual state-commonwealth responsibilities and agendas on arrivals this is a fairway from fair. The PM and premiers can rally like Djokovic and Nadal when they want the policy ball in the others’ court and states and the commonwealth would need to work together to bring internationals back.

But it does demonstrate the federal government’s apparent perception of the international education industry’s political importance. Alan Tudge did the same thing Friday morning, when he  told ABC Radio, the government would consider any proposal on international student arrivals, but added international enrolments (for HE) are only down 5 per cent.

Which is true looking back (scroll down) but not when gazing forward into the imminent enrolment abyss.