International students to return to pre-COVID-19 levels in 2023: Australian education minister

The Australian government expects the number of international students pursuing university degrees in the country to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023.

Speaking at the Australian University Gala Dinner on 23 February, Education Minister Jason Clare provided an update on international students, saying they will be returning to Australia.

“Over the past year, the number of international students earning degrees has increased by 38% year-on-year.” He said.

“We estimate that by the end of this year, the number of international students earning degrees is likely to return to the same number as before the pandemic.”

The minister said a large part of the change was due to increased efficiency in visa processing after the government deployed a number of additional immigration staff.

“The number of students waiting for visas has fallen by more than half in the last seven months,” he said.

“The average waiting time for visas has decreased from 40 days to 12 days.”

Epoch Times photo
Australian Education Minister Jason Clare speaking at the Australian Universities Congress dinner at the Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, 22 February 2023. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Clare also noted that students from some countries have returned to Australia sooner than others.

The number of Indian students earning degrees surged by 160% in 2022, while the number of Chinese students declined.

But Clare said that could change, citing the Chinese government’s recent ban on online learning.

In late January, the Chinese government announced that China’s higher education accreditation bodies would no longer recognize foreign diplomas obtained through distance learning.

The sudden announcement forced Chinese students to rush back to foreign universities around the world, including Australia.

As of February 13, the Home Office has confirmed that it has issued visas to over 40,000 Chinese students to enable them to return to study at Australian universities.

Australia wants more international students

The return of international students marks a positive development for Australia’s education sector, but the Commonwealth Labor Government is not satisfied with the current situation.

Clare said more work needs to be done to attract international students to Australia.

“The biggest export that we don’t dig out of the ground is back.” He said.

“But it’s not enough. We can do more.”

The minister explained that other countries’ education sectors are recovering or growing at Australia’s expense.

“Other countries are eating our lunch now. Some are back to pre-pandemic levels. Others are past it,” he said.

“On the current trajectory, the total number of international students enrolled in universities will not return to pre-pandemic levels until the end of 2025.”

At the event, Claire explained a visa extension program for international students who graduate with the skills the country needs, as the government wants more international students.

The Minister also announced that he will visit India in the week commencing 27 February to sign the Australian-Indian Credentialing Mechanism to promote cooperation in education between the two countries.

Visa Extension Program for International Students

February 21, federal government announced that it will extend post-study work visas for Australian university graduates to address skills shortages.

The government said the new rules were a “pragmatic change” and would improve the availability of skilled workers to support local businesses and help rebuild the international education sector after the COVID-19 pandemic. said it is.

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Students walk around the University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia, April 6, 2016 (Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

It also said the program would target the skills Australia needs most, including health, education, engineering and agriculture.

“Enabling Australian-educated students to stay longer and contribute to the economy benefits us all,” said the Home Secretary. Claire O’Neill said in a statement.

“After a lost decade on immigration and skills, we are looking at ways to strengthen training and leverage skilled immigrants through more targeted and less exploitative programs for short-term visa workers and students. I’m looking for

This change allows international students to stay and work in Australia for an additional two years after graduation.

This means that international graduates with a qualified Bachelor’s degree can stay for four years (up from the previous two years), while those with Master’s degrees (research degrees only) and PhDs can stay for five and six years respectively. increase.

The new rule will go into effect on July 1, 2023, and the government will review the list of covered skills annually.

Along with the visa extension, the government has also increased the maximum working hours for international students, from 40 hours to a maximum of 48 hours per two weeks.