Hopes are rising that international students will be back in Australia early in 2022, but that doesn’t mean the education sector will be able to shrug off the impacts of their absence any time soon.
Events have overtaken state plans for limited numbers of international students to return. With NSW dropping quarantine for fully vaccinated arrivals, flight capacity is the final obstacle.
Universities must move swiftly to attend to students’ needs when borders reopen if Australia is to regain market share in the face of fierce global competition.
International student demand for places in Australia has fallen by a third over the course of the pandemic, while for our key competitors demand has remained stable or even increased.
If we open up the international borders before enough of the population is vaccinated, hospitals could become overwhelmed and deaths would be unacceptably high.
Lockdowns and restrictions disrupted the lives of most Australians, but the impacts on one hard-hit group, nomads, have been largely overlooked. We don’t even know how many of them there are.
Tuesday’s budget shows a reversion back to the previous policy of keeping total higher education funding broadly stable.