Visa Crunch

$53m invested by the Australian Government in international education

The Australian government has proposed a $53 million aid programme for foreign education providers in Australia, which have been struck the hardest by Covid-19. The government wants to allow providers to “refocus” their market models on Australian students and extend their online and offshore course offerings. Alan Tudge, Minister for Education and Youth said, “Our international border closures have been our single best defence in keeping Australians safe from Covid-19, but have obviously meant no new international students coming to Australia.”

According to the government, $26.1 million has been set aside for an additional 5,000 short course places in 2021-22, in order for non-university higher education services to recruit more Australian students. A total of $9.4 million will be used to launch an innovation fund, which will include grants of up to $150,000 to 182 private ELICOS and private higher education agencies to help them expand their offshore and online course distribution. The government estimates that about 1,200 private foreign education agencies will save $7.1 million in overhead costs because they will no longer be needed to record monthly fee receipts. Tudge claimed that the policies would help providers retain “as much capacity as possible” until foreign students are allowed back “when conditions permit.”

He also added, “Many non-university providers have seen revenue decline very sharply and without some support, they may close or lose serious capacity.” He further went on to explain, “The package is measured and targeted at those who need it most while borders are closed.”

CEO of English Australia, Brett Blacker made his stance clear saying, “I recognise the quantum of support is much less than what our sector needs, but equally the package comes from considerable effort over the past few months… It certainly doesn’t mean that our advocacy work will cease rather that we will only work harder to ensure our members and the sector receive further support.”

“We continue to work on plans to bring our students back and provide services that support our members during these challenging times from professional development to member input on the future direction of ELICOS.”

According to government statistics, English language providers have seen a 67 per cent drop in foreign student enrolment, while universities have seen a 12 per cent drop, with non-university higher education providers seeing a 17 per cent drop. Some organizations have recorded declines of up to 70%. Tudge went on to say that the $9.4 million in innovation grants would “encourage providers to take advantage of growing domestic student numbers and provide further schooling online to foreign students offshore.”

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