Drop in international students could have ‘long-term impact’ on Australia

The number of international students applying to study at Australian universities has more than halved while borders remained closed due to COVID-19, new data shows.

Applications by international students to attend Australian universities have dropped 51 per cent since March this year, according to international student recruitment marketplace Adventus.

The latest government figures for November show there are currently 259,752 student visa holders in Australia, more than half of whom are in higher education or postgraduate research.

The figures also show there are still 148,464 student visa holders outside of Australia.

Universities Australia deputy chief executive Anne-Marie Lansdown said there had been a 40 per cent decline in commencing international students from pre-pandemic levels.

“The closure of international borders during the COVID-19 pandemic has obviously had an impact on the willingness of international students to enrol at an Australian university,” Ms Lansdown said.

“Nonetheless, the fundamental attractiveness of an Australian education has not changed.”

Ms Lansdown said she is optimistic a “corner has been turned” as pilot plans have been announced for international students to return to New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland.

Adventus chief executive officer Ryan Trainor said students who would have typically chosen Australia as a study destination are looking elsewhere.

“This may have a long-term impact on the country as we have lost nearly two years of students and the flow-on effect may have longer-term implications if the government does not create a united, every-state message to the students worldwide,” Mr Trainor said.


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