Australia to keep borders closed but welcomes international students

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Published 2020-07-07 10:00

A couple of weeks earlier, the news of Australia keeping its borders closed until 2021 was quite surprising, even though it was understood as a way to prevent a second wave of COVID-19. Last week, however, the government announced that it would only welcome international students. What does this mean for Australia?

Higher education is a highly competitive and essential part of the Australian economy. However, experts predict losses of around 16 billion Australian dollars by 2023, unless the higher education industry gets back on track soon. Indeed, this sector largely depends on international students who contribute up to 40% of the income it generates thanks to the high tuition fees.

With the new semester starting on July 27, universities are preparing to welcome international students. It's also worth noting that 5 Australian universities, namely, the National University of Australia, the University of Sydney, the University of Melbourne, as well as the University of New South Wales and the University of Queensland, are in the world's top 50 best universities according to QS Top Universities Rankings 2020. In total, the ranking features 36 Australian universities.

According to the Australian government, thousands of applications were received in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis. However, only 350 international students, mostly from Asia, will be accepted on a pilot basis. Also, these international students will be automatically be quarantined for two weeks in hotels upon their arrival.

Where are the international students from?

Most international students in Australia come from Asia, especially from China (37%), India, Nepal, Vietnam, Malaysia, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines. Still, there are also Brazilian and Colombian student communities. Also, according to a survey by the Center for Australian Studies of the Beijing Foreign University published in the Global Times, Australia is the favourite destination for Chinese students.

Last month, Australia had openly expressed its willingness to welcome residents of Hong Kong on its territory to provide them with a safe haven during this unprecedented crisis. However, the Chinese government warned Australian on the repercussions of taking such a decision. It's worth noting that Australia comes just after the USA and the United Kingdom regarding the preference of international students.

The Australian higher education strategy

At first, Australian students will be prioritised on Australian campuses. However, student visa applications and enrollment at Australian universities which faced significant delay during the lockdown will allow international students to enter Australia very soon, even though medical and character will are a little longer.

With current travel restrictions, Australia's immigration Australia is expected to drop significantly in the year 2020-2021. However, to maintain the GDP per capita growth, the country must maintain a number ranging from 160,000 to 220,000.

What about in-demand professions in Australia?

The State of Victoria region will be accepting applications for Skilled Nominated (Permanent) visa (subclass 190) and Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491) during the 2020-2021 fiscal year. New South Wales, on the other hand, has accepted applications for Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 491) until June 26, 2020. In Southern Australia, applications to the nomination system will be on as of August while the Northern Territory program is subject to new eligibility criteria since July 1st. Meanwhile, Western Australian Territory amended its occupations list, replacing Registered Nurse (Mental Health) with Nuclear Medicine Technologist (251213) and Physicist (234914) with specialisation in Medical Physicist.

The situation looks favourable for international students living in these designated regions. Those who are already studying in the country are more likely to be considered for the residency visa nomination program. On the other hand, in the Australian Capital Territory, the next round of invitations for the subclass 190 visa should take place on July 15, 2020. So keep an eye out!

A few points to keep in mind

In line with the Consumer Price Index, visa fees are expected to increase by 3 to 4% from now on.

You should respect the 1.5-meter social distance rule when moving around Australia and enquire on any other restrictions that might be in force in the city you have chosen to live in.

Consider downloading the COVIDSafe app to receive the latest updates. Also, screening tests are available all over the country.