How does the COVID-19 situation in India impact the International Education sector in Australia?

May 25, 2021
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Australia India International Education COVID-19

Introduction

India has been witnessing a record rise in daily coronavirus cases, with nearly 300,000+ new cases. The COVID-19 situation has once again shattered the industry of international education mobility between Australia and India.

It’s no secret that India has been a significant contributor to Australia’s international education industry. The Ministry of External Affairs estimates more than 750,000 Indian students are studying overseas. Australia is home to over 700,000 international students and the second most popular destination for Indians after the US. However, the industry is hit hard by COVID-19 and has brought forth remote learning concepts for higher education.

Worsening COVID-19 in India 

After a year of the COVID-19 crisis, India again sees a substantial rise in daily virus-infected cases. The second wave which took the rise in March 2021 was much larger than the first. Certainly, the country faced an alarming shortage of vaccines, hospital beds, oxygen cylinders and other hospital supplies. On 30 April 2021, the country reported over 400,000 new cases within a span of 24-hours. As of May 2021, India became the second-highest number of confirmed cases in the world after the United States. The country recorded nearly 20 million reported cases of COVID-19 infection and 249,992 deaths as of 11 May 2021. However, the experts fear that the actual numbers are far beyond the reported cases.

What is Australia doing for India to support?

India is a great friend of Australia as a comprehensive strategic partner as well, Prime Minister Scott Morisson quoted in support of India. He assured that Australia will stand with India to come out of this terrible crisis. 

Australia has sent a relief package that contains 1.5 million masks, 500 ventilators and thousands of goggles, gloves and face shields.

Similarly, the Australian state of Victoria announced 41 million dollar worth of medical equipment that includes 1,000 ventilators. 

Besides, an Australian cricket champion, Pat Cummins, who is currently playing for the Indian club Kolkata Knight Riders has also been supporting India. He pledged $50,000 AUD to the PM CARES Fund for providing oxygen to the overrun hospitals.

How will this impact International Education? 

Most Indian students prefer to stay in Australia post-education for a reasonable period of time, if not permanently. Moreover, the time spent abroad for studies maximizes their chances to get post-study visas and stay permits. Needless to say, the appeal of studying abroad lies in the university experience. For many Indian students, remote learning is challenging. However, it’s not just about travel restrictions. It’s about the overseas experience, lifestyle, and income that a student can experience in his/her abroad university journey. Furthermore, it becomes difficult to justify the fees between remote and on-campus abroad learning. Thus, even if the Australian universities are shifting towards online education due to travel restrictions, students still prefer on-campus experience in Australia.

Australia is now among the world’s safest countries that have significantly controlled the wave of COVID-19. The COVID-19 restrictions have definitely impacted the number of Indian students coming to Australia. The latest figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reveal a drastic drop in international student arrival numbers in the month of March 2021. With Australia’s international borders firmly closed, this February, only 230 arrived, registering a decrease of 99.6% per cent compared with the same month in 2020.

Despite the travel ban, Australia’s low rates of COVID-19 transmission arguably makes it a desirable location for international students in comparison to other countries. However, there needs to be an effective plan to bring back international students to Australia.

Possible Options to bring back International Students in Australia

Vaccination passport options for students

Once the travel restrictions are lifted, the travel and study plans will be resumed as well. With pandemic-related precautions in mind, the students may need to provide their digital access to COVID-19 vaccination status. A vaccination passport could permit international students to enter Australia if they can provide proof of having been vaccinated prior to boarding their flight. 

Victoria’s plans to bring back International Students

The Victorian government plans to bring international students back into the state from May 23 to aid the economic recovery of the state and nation. The planned scheme will see 120 people — including foreign students, actors and film crew, and those travelling into the country for business — entering the country each week on top of its quota of returning Australians, reported The Sydney Morning Herald. 

Conclusion

The devastating situation seems to take pause no soon in India and COVID-19 will continue to impact the number of Indian students coming to Australia International Education. However, Australia being a safe country can make it a top destination choice for international education once again.

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