International students on the move – but not to Australia (yet)


Change could be coming

 Last month Canada announced it was opening borders to international students but visas were a problem, with many consular posts around the world remaining closed. However last week the Canadians opened up In India. Ganga Dandapani from CANAM Education Consultants reports they are receiving student related communications from the Canadian Government. She says Canada is now set for a large January intake.

Non-EU international student numbers are up 9 per cent in the UK. With providers staying open, demand for face to face teaching has been high and it appears this will continue into the next enrolment season.

The appeal of the US is increasing, not least as the political situation stabilises. However, with COVID-19 still rampant and visa’s requiring face-to-face interviews a significant increase in new international students isn’t imminent.

As to Australia, Asian media was quick to pick-up on the prime minister’s “Australians home before students” statement (CMM November 16). This is not good, given an IDP survey finds 56 per cent of present and prospective international students are prepared to switch countries to access in-person teaching (CMM November 20).

Australia’s success at containing COVID-19 is great for demand but we are not capitalising on it.  For Australia to stay a major provider of international education governments must address our quarantine system and find a safe way to being back students at scale.

NSW Premier Gladys Gladys Berejiklian appears to get this, telling Nine Newspaper’s on the weekend that NSW could use a third of hotel quarantine rooms for international students and skilled migrants and workers. This build on enthusiasm for the idea her jobs and tourism minister Stuart Ayres expressed in September. He told the Australian Technology Network Conference that his experience managing the state’s hotel quarantine programme convinced him that extending it to cover international students “is quite manageable,” (CMM September 24).

This may be why Nine Newspapers report Ms Berejiklian would like international arriving in six weeks. This would be in good time to clear quarantine for first semester.

The prime minister has made much of getting off-shore Australians home for Christmas. But after then who knows – perhaps January will be a happy new year for some, some, international students and HE providers.

Dirk Mulder is CMM’s international education correspondent