‘Confusion reigns’ over return of foreign students

Universities in Australia missed out on at least AU$756 million (US$568 million) in revenue from international students in 2020 amid a broader AU$1.9 billion (US$1.4 billion) hit to the sector, which is calling for clarity about the timing of and rules around their large-scale return, writes Lisa Visentin for the Brisbane Times.

Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge said last Thursday he was confident tens of thousands of overseas students would come back next year, boosting universities’ bottom lines, as he released the 2020 financial statements for the sector. In total, 16 of the country’s 39 comprehensive universities reported a deficit, with an overall net loss of AU$1.9 billion across the sector compared with 2019. Investment revenue fell by AU$1.3 billion, while overseas student fees were down by AU$756 million. Despite this, universities still collectively banked AU$9.2 billion in overseas student fees last year, amounting to almost 27% of their operating revenue.

But with states opening up in a fragmented way and pursuing separate pilot programmes for offshore students, there is widespread confusion about the pathways for their return. International Education Association of Australia Chief Executive Phil Honeywood said the messaging for overseas students waiting to return had been a “dog’s breakfast”.
Full report on the Brisbane Times site