Call For Return of International Students To Be An Immediate Priority

Implementing a process to immediately open borders to international students is among a string of recommendations being made by the Australian Business Deans Council (ABDC) to a Federal Government education taskforce.

A new Australian Strategy for International Education 2021-2030 is being developed by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment seeking to respond to the changing environment and guide the recovery of the sector.

In its submission to the taskforce, ABDC recommended “implementing a mechanism to open borders to international students, where state, territory and federal governments collaborate with universities and accommodation providers” as an immediate-term strategy.

“Modelling by the Mitchell Institute predicts an annual reduction in spending across the broader economy of $11.4 billion if borders remain closed to international students until July 2021,” the ABDC said.

Other immediate strategies recommended by the ABDC were:

  • Ensuring that student expectations of a high-quality learning experience, whether in person or online, in a country regarded for its safety and multiculturalism are being met
  • Making recent changes in post-study work rights, which account for online study completed offshore, permanent. Failure to do so will reduce our competitiveness with markets like the UK and Canada and risks leading to a permanent decline in demand for Australian education
  • Offering greater flexibility in courses, with options for online and on-campus study, micro-credentials, short courses and internships. Reviewing fees for international students, having regard to their competitiveness with lower-priced, yet highly ranked, institutions around the world

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Over the long-term, the ABDC recommended the taskforce implement strategies to:

  • Align programs with Australian and global skills and employment demand, with the task force providing guidance on what is required over two-, five- and 10-year time.  horizons
  • Build a significant Australian presence in online education with a reputation for quality, innovation and responsiveness to student needs.
  • Promote Australia’s reputation and presence in new geographical markets. This will require a coordinated effort to present our advantages as a quality, vibrant educational hub for all levels of education
  • Deliver on the strategy’s immediate priorities, including those involving work and visa policies, to competitively position the Australian education sector.


Doug Estwick
Doug is an author for MBA News and Fixed Income News Australia. Doug has been a media and communications professional for more than 10 years, including working as an editor for News Corp's Quest Newspaper group.