Overseas students across the world have been adversely affected by COVID-19. As the pandemic spread globally, Australia’s higher education sector faces an uncertain future. As a result, there is a sharp drop in satisfaction with the entire educational experience.
A survey conducted on the student experience in Australia 2020 reveals a massive fall in satisfaction with the whole educational experience, particularly among overseas students.
The Student Experience Survey
The Student Experience Survey gathers information on pivotal aspects of the higher education student experience and concentrates on perspectives of the student experience that are calculable, associated with learning and development outcomes, and potentially influenced by institutions.
Skills Development, Learner Engagement, Teaching Quality, Student Support, and Learning Resources are the five perspectives measured by SES.
According to Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching, the 2020 SES presented an opportunity to measure how the higher education sector has reacted to the Covid-19 pandemic as seen from the perspective of students and their lived experience of these variations.
It was also the first year a new international student module was added to measure broader aspects of the international student experience together with living and accommodation experience and reasons for choosing to study in Australia.
Student entire educational experience rating among undergraduates fell to 69% in 2020, down from 78% in the previous year.
The survey also shows a sharp drop in student positive ratings of Learner Engagement that fell to 44% in 2020, down from 60% in 2019, and of Learning Resources, to 76% in 2020, down from 84% in 2019.
Student Support, Skills Development, and Teaching Quality have also seen some drop have also experienced some falls in positive ratings.
International students appear to have reported a sharper fall in student ratings than domestic students in 2020, with ratings of the quality of their overall education experience dipping by 12% in 2020 and ratings of Learning Resources dropped by 11%.
However, international students encountered a lesser fall in Learner Engagement, 10% in contrast with the 16% decline outlined by domestic students.
According to QILT, there may be a partial explanation for this conclusion in Department of Home Affairs data that shows around 76-77% of primary student visa holders were actually in Australia in August/ September 2020.
The Department of Home Affairs data runs contradictory to the popular perception that most international students were unable to come to study in Australia due to Covid-19 curbs.
International students considering deferring the studies
International students also considered leaving their studies in 2020 because of disputes associated with the pandemic. 18% of students indicated they were considering giving up their studies due to financial challenges and fee burdens.
The survey further asked students to rate whether their financial circumstances, living arrangements and paid work commitments negatively affected their study.
There was a slight change in these factors for domestic students. However, there was a substantial increase for international students.
The proportion of international students detailing their study had been negatively affected by their financial conditions. The negative impact of virtual learning increased from 23% to 34%, and the negative impact of paid work commitments on study risen by 9% to 30%.
Universities in Victoria encountered the most significant drop in student rating of the quality of their overall education as the University of Melbourne stands at 25%, Monash University at 18%, and RMIT University (16%). According to the QILT report, Covid-19 related lockdowns contributed to the fall.
The survey for these victorian universities was undertaken in August-September 2020 at the peak of the lockdown during the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Victoria.