During the two years that our border was closed, Australia’s position in the worldwide higher education market deteriorated dramatically.
However, recent demand and application data indicate that our situation may be improving since the border re-opening was announced in November. Since December 1, 2022, more than 43,000 overseas students have arrived in Australia.
Despite increased COVID-19 case numbers caused by the Omicron variant, Australia’s share of foreign student demand has rebounded from a low of 16.22 per cent in October 2021 to 19.68 per cent in January 2022.
Students researching their international education alternatives on IDP’s digital platform provide real-time aggregated search statistics. It’s a database of more than 100 million site views per year. This upward tendency can also be noticed in the student application information.
Australia typically has the highest intake in semester 1. There were fears that pandemic uncertainty may benefit northern hemisphere countries this summer. These preliminary reports of recovery are heartening. However, it cannot be anticipated with certainty the impact of this summer’s Omicron wave on enrollments at this time.
According to IDP survey results, Australia has a relatively solid reputation as a COVID-safe destination. Long-term market recovery is a long-term project. Universities should concentrate on giving a world-class student experience in order to be internationally competitive. Some adjustments may require more time to develop and explain to the market.
Improving skilled migration options for international students will help strengthen Australia’s market competitiveness.
The recently issued Australian Strategy for International Education prioritizes the development of a world-class student experience. It advises colleges to cooperate with foreign students, domestic students, and local communities to foster social linkages. It also suggests that they enhance the educational experience.
This strategy is supported by evidence. It would contribute to addressing overseas students’ worries about isolation, discrimination, and bullying because of their political beliefs. The Australian Productivity Commission’s 2020 report on its examination into mental health raised concerns about the mental health of international students.
According to a 2021 QS poll of international students, COVID-19 has exacerbated these concerns due to increased social isolation and difficulty accessing mental health treatments. Universities can take action in 2022 to promote the social integration and well-being of international students.
COVID safety, welcoming and connecting new and returning students, and re-engaging local communities in international education should all be addressed in actions. This lays the groundwork for longer-term change. As semester one enrollments are finalized, Omicron offers issues for the sector.
Australia’s status as a COVID-safe place is jeopardized due to policy uncertainty and contentious public discussion. Universities can take steps to assure COVID-free transit routes and campuses, as well as meet the public health problems posed by Omicron. To reassure prospective students and their families, clear and timely communication is required.
Academic institutions are establishing programs in place to welcome international students and assist them with better inclusion and well-being. The incoming student population necessitates special attention as they reintegrate into school life. Some have been separated from their families for up to two years outside of Australia, leaving them emotionally and academically secluded.
International students have been significantly missing from local communities during the pandemic. Many people, particularly tourism and hospitality providers, will be glad to see them again. However, universities should not expect a consistent response.
According to empirical information, some domestic students and their families are concerned about the influence of international education on the quality of the domestic student experience. Universities should take action in response to community concerns. This will help to strengthen the worldwide education brand in the long run.
The Strategy for International Education suggests a higher focus on domestic skill shortages in its recovery road map. It is, however, deafeningly silent on problems concerning the legislative frameworks that underpin skilled migration for overseas graduates.
When considering where to study, students consider chances for post-study work rights. According to a 2019 study, international professionals were dubious about the rights offered by temporary graduate visas. Many people, however, saw this visa category as a route to skilled migration.
As Australia transitions to a post-COVID economy, major industries confront significant skill shortages. There is a compelling case to be made for the Australian government to reconsider post-study work privileges. Such policy adjustments would have to take into account local political and community concerns.
The goal should be greater economic consequences from a more competitive international higher education industry, as well as great economic and community impacts from planned post-study migration opportunities. The most recent international higher education numbers are promising. However, colleges and the government must do more to ensure long-term recovery.