Response to bushfires crucial to securing confidence in international education

By Dirk Mulder

We need a message now

The bushfires have created a perception among prospective international students, their families and industry agents that Australia is not safe. Images on international news channels picked up across the globe and particularly in Asia are quick to demonstrate devastation but less so to report recovery and detailed information of actual affected areas. Misinformation and fake images also circulate via social media.

This means we need a coordinated response to ensure the “open for business” message is heard and confidence in Australia as a safe destination is heard.  The immediate need is obvious, plus there is also an opportunity to reshape medium to long term strategy objectives.

 What’s underway: In the immediate, a $76m package has been announced to ensure international visitors broadly are assured Australia is open for business. This will be coordinated via the tourism portfolio with approximately $5m earmarked for international education.

Earlier this week Education Minister Dan Tehan conducted an industry roundtable, with a task force to established to look at a more holistic sector response. This will involve international students and will work alongside leading peak bodies such as the International Education Association of Australia, English Australia and Universities Australia. State governments are also represented, to ensure education is included in the tourism messaging.

 What’s needed next:  No education related messaging has yet hit the ground and this needs to be done quickly to minimise any effect on the first semester intake (late February, early March).

Dirk Mulder is CMM’s international education correspondent. Contact him @ [email protected]