Travel restrictions create budget 'black hole' . . .
Australia will launch a trial program next month to bring international post-secondary students into the country to begin or resume their studies. In the first phase, 300 students from East Asia will arrive in the state of South Australia, which has so far succeeded in minimizing the number of new COVID-19 cases. Canberra’s universities shelved earlier plans to bring back international students when the country began facing a new outbreak. As of February, Australia had nearly 700,000 international students, making its higher education sector especially dependent on the revenue from international student fees. With COVID-related travel restrictions, universities face a possible C$15 billion 'black hole' in their revenues.
Canada’s mixed messages . . .
Canada ranks third globally in terms of international students, with 642,000, behind the U.S. and Australia. Canadian post-secondary institutions have also become increasingly dependent on related revenues, especially as the total number of international students tripled over the past decade. The federal government acted promptly to help maintain enrollment levels amid COVID-related uncertainties and avoid disruptions to study permits. It also allowed students who are attending courses remotely from their home countries to count that time towards their post-graduate work permit. However, several Canadian universities have announced that they are raising international student tuition fees further, prompting protests and petitions from international students.
Throwing politics into the mix . . .
In addition to uncertainties about how the pandemic will affect international student enrollment, growing bilateral tensions with Beijing could also be a wild card. China accounts for 26 per cent and 22 per cent of Australia’s and Canada’s international students, respectively. In response to the Australian government’s support for a WHO investigation into the origins of COVID-19, the Chinese government suggested that Chinese students might reconsider their decision to study in Australia. While Beijing has issued no such admonishment for Canada, souring Canada-China relations could also have repercussions for Canada’s standing as a global education destination.
- The Guardian: Australia to restart granting visas to international students to lift struggling university sector
- The PIE News: International students question fee hikes at Canadian HEIs
- Straits Times: Australia to kick off trial in September to allow foreign students to return amid Covid-19 pandemic