International arrivals: the good times aren’t rolling yet

Students are entering in Australia, but nowhere near pre-pandemic numbers

Some 49 000 arrived in February, compared to 184 000 in  Feb 19, the last pandemic unimpeded peak.

Standard and Poor analyst Rebecca Hrvatin suggests that international politics and continuing COVID concerns mean, “it will take some time for student flows to return to pre-pandemic levels. “

The arrivals mix has also changed, with commencing students from China, down close to 40 per cent. Commencing HE students from India are up 15 per cent and 5 per cent from Nepal, on February 2019. “We believe there could be a split within the sector, as more prestigious universities soak up the smaller number of Chinese students,” Ms Hrvatin says.

Overall S&P has “a slight negative outlook bias” on  public universities, “the outlook could be challenging because the pipeline effect from student intakes disrupted in recent years continues to depress revenues.”

However it points to ANU, Uni Melbourne, UNSW and Uni Wollongong as having “generally weathered the storm well,” demonstrating, “agility within their operating budgets” by reducing expenditures.