Victoria expects to welcome more international students in the coming years as Australia’s borders reopen.
As per state budget projections released on Tuesday, the number of international students seeking to study in Victoria will return to pre-pandemic levels by mid-2024. The state government projects that international student enrolment will increase Victoria’s population by 1.7 percent, reflecting the average growth rate over the last 20 years.
This follows a 0.1 percent increase in population in 2021-22 and a 0.7 percent decrease in 2020-21. Much of this is due to the pandemic, which caused many foreigners and international students to return home and were unable to return due to Australia’s strict border policy.
“With border restrictions now eased, the flows of migrants and foreign students to Victoria are expected to gradually increase over the course of 2022, reaching around pre-pandemic levels by 2023-24,” it said.
“Victoria’s strong labour market, highly ranked education sector, welcoming and diverse multicultural community, and liveability should once again attract an outsized share of Australia’s overall migrant intake.”
The country has only recently begun to reopen to the rest of the world, allowing students to return to their universities after nearly two years of being barred. Despite this, international students have encountered some difficulties, such as delays in visa applications that prevented them from attending their universities.
Victorian governments, according to reports, are putting plans in place to attract and retain international students and graduates. Last month, Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp called for “dramatic and brave” action to ensure that students studying in Victoria do not leave for other states after graduation. To ensure this, she proposed that graduates be granted automatic access to a four-year visa.
Numerous different initiatives include a two-million-Australian-dollar investment announced last week to provide international students with access to public transportation via an International Student Travel Pass. Amidst the government’s optimistic projections, experts say more needs to be done if they are to reach pre-pandemic levels. Dr. Peter Hurley, Victoria University’s education policy lead, estimates that it will take several years to achieve this.
According to Hurley, approximately 90,000 students are enrolled in Australian universities but are studying from a distance. The majority of those who study remotely in Victoria are from China. Chinese students are especially interested in an Australian education, and many aspire to study in Victoria. According to a study, there is strong Chinese sentiment toward Australian universities among four other countries considered, including Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, indicating that future demand will remain high.
Other reports, however, indicate that there has been a “steady decline in interest” in Australia among some international students. This was most visible in certain markets, such as India, where the market dropped from 20% in 2019 to 9%. Hurley went on to say that Australia would have likely lost international students to countries with more appealing post-study work opportunities and citizenship pathways.
The United Kingdom, for example, has recently announced a new High Potential Individual visa that will allow talented graduates from the world’s top universities to live and work in the country without the need for sponsorship. Similarly, Canada is introducing a High Potential Tech visa, which will allow in-demand tech professionals to enter the country without a job offer.
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