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News Analysis: Australia’s tertiary education sector faces hurdles on road to winning back int’l students

SYDNEY, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) — Australia’s tertiary education sector, which has been financially languishing for the past two years due to COVID-19, is finally about to welcome back international students with the reopening of the nation’s borders from December.

Earlier this week, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that fully vaccinated foreign students with the appropriate visas would no longer need to apply for travel exemptions.

This easing of regulations has pleased key players such as Universities Australia and the Group of Eight (Go8), who represent many of the nation’s leading tertiary institutions.

“The Australian government’s decision to allow fully vaccinated visa holders, including international students, to return from Dec. 1 signals the beginning of an exciting new phase for our international education,” Go8 Chief Executive Vicki Thomson told Xinhua.

Universities and colleges have long relied on those international students as a major revenue stream, with their fees making up to 40 percent of some institutions’ total earnings, according to the figures published by the University of Sydney last year.

Prior to the pandemic, Universities Australia estimated in 2018 that international students injected 31.9 billion Australian dollars (about 22.83 billion U.S. dollars) into the country’s economy in the previous financial year, due to their high tuition fees and associated living costs.

According to data from Australia Department of Education, Skills and Employment in November, more than 150,000 primary student visa holders are outside Australia.

There are now concerns as to how they will be reabsorbed into the education system for the 2022 academic year.

The states of New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria, which usually host most of the nation’s international students, have created pilot programs based on a gradual acceptance of overseas students.

The NSW was initially only going to allow up to 250 students per fortnight to return from December…

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