An India Economic Strategy to 2035 report to the Australian Government by Mr Peter N Varghese AO explains that there is no sector with greater promise for Australia in India than education. But now, on account of the Coronavirus pandemic, there is an inevitable decline in international student revenue is expected to hit Australia’s education export sector significantly. International students are currently doing it tough as they are unable to find work and their worlds are turned upside down due to COVID-19 restrictions. While their visas requirements mandate that they support themselves financially for the basics, the reality is that these circumstances are unprecedented. The unintended consequences to the holistic well-being of these students will be impacted.
Universities contributed $41 billion to the Australian economy and there are an estimated 570,000 international students currently in Australia. The international student sector’s importance has grown over the years with reliance of revenue from onshore international students has grown by 45% in last few years. It is now the third largest revenue source for the majority of Australian universities.
Deakin University has announced up to $25 million in additional targeted support for international students experiencing hardship as a result of COVID-19.
The government’s announcement of a higher education relief package focused on domestic students is welcomed. AIBC has now requested Australian Universities to continue this initiative with International students and adopt a ‘customer-centric’ approach to look after their highest fee-paying customers.
“Educational institutes also need to plan for the future and actively partner with governments and industry to deliver India’s massive education needs”
— Dr Partha Mukherjee
The Australian High Commissioner to India, Barry O’Farrell, has recently reassured the Indian government that Indian students in Australia will be ‘protected and kept safe’ through COVID-19.
The extent of support provided will have a big impact on the confidence and reputation of Australian Education and Government in the post pandemic recovery phase. It will impact future international student enrolments onshore and offshore as our Australian educational institutes seek to compete with other countries to market their world-class education to India.
Dr Partha Mukherjee, AIBC Chapter Chair of Education & Skills Development, said: “It is imperative in the immediate crisis that the Australian institutions support their onshore international cohort.” In addition, he said, “Educational institutes also need to plan for the future and actively partner with governments and industry to deliver India’s massive education needs. A need that can be met through Australian education, innovation and digital models of delivery for the future.”
The National Chair of AIBC, Jim Varghese AM said that Dr Mukherjee’s comments on planning and partnering for the future were echoed during the education stream of the AIBX 2020 in Delhi and Mumbai in February this year.
🎓 @AIBC_Ltd has now requested Australian Universities to continue higher education relief package initiative with International students & adopt a ‘customer-centric’ approach to look after their highest fee-paying customers. #TheIndianSun #Covid19https://t.co/LKMVu7yl31
— The Indian Sun (@The_Indian_Sun) April 15, 2020