Visa Crunch

Early 2021 will see international students return to Victoria, Australia.

As the approval of the Pfizer/Biontech vaccine in the UK and the USA for administration to the general public, shining a light at the end of the long tunnel that has been the ‘pandemic era’, students wishing to study abroad have also begun to see restrictions being lifted and plans of the return being put in place by universities around the world.

The Victorian government recently announced the International Education Short-Term Recovery Plan 2020/2021, which outlined measures which will be put into place to stimulate earnings and growth in the education sector. The measures included lifting restrictions and allowing international students to enter the state, and also the provision of scholarships.

Martin Pakula, the minister of Trade said, “The international education sector is a cornerstone of Victoria’s economic recovery.”

He added, “Timely and strategic support for the sector is vital because the positive effects will amplify Victoria’s broader economic recovery.” Referring to the pre-COVID times, in 2019, he added, “At that time more than 250,000 international students were travelling here to study – today, due to the coronavirus pandemic, there are fewer than 120,000 students on our shores, with significant impacts being felt across the sector and the economy.”

The recovery plan also noted the alarming fact that international education export revenue, or put in simpler terms, earnings from providing education to foreign nationals, will decrease by approximately $5.8 billion in 2020.

To curb these loses, the Victorian government hopes to attract students with attractive scholarship opportunities. It primarily aims to do this by providing grants to universities where students undertake English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students or foundation studies.

Margaret Garner, president and vice-chancellor of Monash University said, “With this announcement, Victoria has again strongly signalled the importance of international students to our community,” She added, “This investment will go a long way to highlighting to the world the quality of tertiary education in Victoria and all that our state, and city, has to offer to international students.”

The state has also planned out other programmes to garner international student’s interest in the state. An edutourism programme and an entrepreneurship programme are also in the works and will greatly help students develop essential soft skills. Finally, the government looks to promote the state as a hub for Edtech innovation, an industry that is seeing quite a lot of activity currently due to the surge in demand for new ways to provide students with an interactive learning experience, while the students are in the safe confines of their home.

David Linke, managing director of Edugrowth, said, “A network of Study Melbourne hubs is a great way of ensuring current international students remain connected to their institution, whilst paving the way for future students to see the quality of an Australian education from Victoria using the best of online learning and physical environment.”

Talking about the government’s investments in international research programmes, Amanda Caples, lead scientist, Victorian Government, said,” “Victoria has built a globally competitive innovation ecosystem, catalysed by longstanding investment in science and research capability… This capability provides local and international students with the tools and technologies they need to launch successful careers and enable strong and meaningful connections between Victoria and the world.”

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