According to the DSE and DHA report, around 6,14,268 international students have joined various institutes in Australia. However, the number is expected to slash down by at least 16% in the coming 2021 academic session due to the coronavirus pandemic. The number of international students enrolled in Australian Universities but studying outside the country has gone up from 116,774 to 138,060. But what is Australia planning to do for international students this year?
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Will they or will they not?
The biggest question right now is whether the Australian Government plans on calling back the international students. Following the US and Canada steps, the Australian Government plans on calling back all international students for offline classes.
Australia has managed to keep a check on the Covid-19 situation. With the cases going down, the Government is pleased to let international students join on-campus classes. The Northern Territory was the first one to welcome its students, while the South followed suit.
Rules to be followed by international students in Australia
The north territory and the southern parts of Australia have begun small trial runs of calling students back since January 2021. There are, however, some things that you need to keep in mind if you are an international student traveling to Australia to get your student visa granted. These are:
- Only applying to Australian Universities won’t help you to get a student’s visa. You need to get enrolled in one of the Australian Institutions to get one.
- If you have already enrolled in any of the institutions but have not received a student’s visa, you need to apply for it as soon as possible to travel back.
- In case you are unsure about going back to Australia and wish to continue your studies in your home country, you can do so easily. The Australian Education System is extremely flexible, and you won’t face any problem with learning.
- Do not worry if you are studying online due to the pandemic. The rules suggest that you can work in Australia after completing your course if you are taking online classes and have a student visa. It will not have any adverse effect on your chances yo get a work visa in Australia.
- The Australian Government has provided the following website to calculate the living costs of international students once they decide to come back to Australia: https://www.studyinaustralia.gov.au/English/Live-in-Australia/living-costs
- There is a lot of support available through educators as well as the Government for the international students. For any queries, you can visit:https://www.studyinaustralia.gov.au/english/study-in-australia-student-support/health-and-wellbeing/health
The Government takes precautions in the Education Sector
Australian Government has issued protocols for all international travelers, including people involved in the education sector.
According to the protocol, when the students (including international students) start to arrive, the institutes must return to on-campus learning with necessary covid-19 safety precautions. Along with that, all the events that require mass gatherings, such as practicals, workshops, tutorials, laboratories, need to be conducted by following social distancing measures.
The Government has strictly asked all the institutes to provide the students with necessary student services such as medical services, accommodation, employment, and student support. All sorts of infrastructure such as the library, teaching labs, research, computer labs should be available to students, and covid safety measures should be implemented in such places. Students should meet the professors and support staff on campus, but they should follow social distancing norms.
Impact of the initial travel ban on international students
There has been researching on the impact of the travel ban on international students. Firstly, it has impacted the population of Australia. It is one of the most sparsely populated countries, with around 3.3 persons living per square kilometer. Due to the travel ban, the international students were in their home country, and as a result, the population density went down in several Australian regions. According to research, inter-city regions have been majorly affected. Strathfield and Hurstville, located in the South-west and South regions of Sydney, are a Chinese student hub. Due to the travel restrictions, the number went down drastically like it did in Melbourne.
Apart from this, the economy has had a significant hit due to travel restrictions. Around 57% of the Australian economy is the money spent by international students on goods and services. As a result, the local businesses experienced a downfall during the travel restrictions. Moreover, it was predicted that if the travel restrictions are not eased, the number of international students will be slashed down by 50%.
The reports prepared by the Mitchell Institute suggest that the longer the travel restrictions, the more the amount of loss will be faced by the Australian economy. The data was formulated by using the ‘rate of decline of enrolments’ in Australia. It suggested that if the initial travel restrictions were to stay until July 2022, only 165000 international students would remain in Australia. This is a drastic turn from 410000 international students back in October 2019.
Impact of travel restrictions on the minds of international students
Unlike the Australian Government, international students had initially lost faith in the education system of Australia. According to the University of Technology’s research, most international students who have stuck in their host country would advise their acquaintances not to join Australian University. This is due to agitation feelings in these international students due to work exploitation issues and getting denied support payments during the lockdown. The international students who stayed back were denied federal wage subsidies. This is a blot of the Australian Government, which promises to boost all international students’ morale. The students had to resort to cheap labor to get through the lockdown.
However, the Federal Government maintained the fact that they asked all migrant students to return to their home country if they were short of funds during the lockdown. However, the students could not go back due to the unavailability of flights or expensive flight tickets.
According to the Union NSW survey, almost 60% of the international students lost their jobs during the pandemic. 31 % of these students were short on rent money, whereas 46% were forced to skip meals daily.
The Australian Government is currently holding trial programs where international students are safely brought back to the country. However, it has to deal with those present in the country during the lockdown and have lost their faith in the Authorities.