06.05.2021Brighter days for Victoria’s international education sector?

In last month’s Communique, the Committee highlighted that the general response from Australian governments, to the needs of the country’s international education sector, had been underwhelming.

A month later and the wheels have appeared to turn. The Victorian Government recently announced two initiatives to facilitate the return of international students.

The first initiative involves establishing a dedicated quarantine hotel to enable the return of 120 foreign students per week, to serve their mandatory quarantine period.

The second concerns the construction of a 500-bed quarantine accommodation hub in Mickleham. While not designed solely for international students, the hub could complement the dedicated quarantine hotel. The unfolding tragedy in India and the dire situation in many parts of the world, serves a reminder that quarantine will remain a feature of our lives for some time.

The Federal Government is considering both plans.

The Victorian Government announcements are welcome but greater focus and urgency is required. The Victorian and Federal Governments need to cooperate fully on this matter. Disagreements must be worked through quickly to avoid delays in policy implementation.

In a related development, the Federal Government has released an international education consultation paper, which will form the basis of their revised strategy for the sector. The Committee will provide a high-level submission as part of the consultation process.

With the release of the Federal Government Budget on 12 May and the State Budget on 20 May, the Committee looks forward to seeing what measures will be taken to support and fast-track the return of international students.

International students are crucial to our economy and community. The timing and rate of their return will determine the future of Victoria’s international education sector and other economic sectors supported by the student cohort.

The Committee continues to advocate for the return of, and ongoing support for, international students through its International Student Action Network (ISAN) made up of a range of members including educational institutions, community and civic leaders.

For more information contact Brett Van Duppen, Policy and Research Officer, bvanduppen@melbourne.org.au

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