The Future of Australian International Students Hangs in the Balance
Australian international students have been greatly affected by the border closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though a small number of them have been given exemptions to return, the majority of international students have not been able to reenter and have to continue their studies online. The government has held discussions about the possibility of letting more students back in since it has had a negative impact on the economy but as of yet, no solutions or answers have been given.
After the national cabinet’s meeting held between the federal and state leaders on February 5th, no timeline or concrete plan in place for Australian international students to be able to return to Australia for their studies. Although it was planned for them to discuss the situation, however, no updates were released. There had been discussion to allow students to return if they had been vaccinated.
Nearly 30% of all of Australian international student visa holders are unable to return and have to only attend online classes from overseas. There has also been a 25% drop in student applications due to the inability for them to come to the country and attend classes in person.
Australian international students vent frustration with petition and Twitter protest
Over 10,000 students have signed a petition after they have found themselves unable to return to Australia since the borders were closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The students that have signed the petition have cited the bad quality of the online education.
They have stated that the group is willing to follow whatever regulations would be set to make it possible for them to return such as taking the vaccine and quarantining for the required amount of time.
A reason that has been stated as to why they have been unable to let more students return is that there are insufficient places to quarantine such a large number of returning students. However a spokeswoman from the Australian National University offered a solution by saying that it would be possible to quarantine students in the now empty student accommodation buildings.
With all this discontent among the Australian international students the hashtag LETUSBACKTOAUS became a trending topic on twitter as it was shared heavily among Indian students that make the second largest group of international students within Australia.
The Economic Ripple Effect of Australia’s International Student Crisis
Almost 51,000 new and returning foreign students arrived in Australia in October 2019. By October 2020, this number had fallen by 99.7%—to just 130. As more than 40% of the sector’s annual student income currently comes from foreign students, Australian’s economy has been affected by this. Due to that reason, multiple universities have stated that the ongoing shutdown of foreign students would affect the Australian economy as well as the potential research ability of universities. Australian universities also hope international students could return to class by the second half of 2021.
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