‘Fortress Australia’ strangling Universities as international enrolments slide
Australia’s university sector is facing the perfect storm of closed international borders and increased competition from the United Kingdom and the United States as enrolments fell by 16% during the first semester of 2021.
Data published by the Australian Government’s Department of Skills, Education and Employment reveals the toll of ‘fortress Australia’ on the education sector with enrolments down by more than 500,000.
Education is Australia’s third-largest export behind iron ore and coal, and the sector saw an estimated 20,000 casual university staff stand down in 2020.
There could be more job losses likely if enrolments fail to recover in the latter half of 2021.
English-language courses which have been favoured by Asian students have led declines across the sector as countries such as India and China contend with ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks.
According to the government’s data, revenues from international students accounted for nearly half of the $23.8 billion in fees collected by educators in 2020.
A pathway to reopening international borders with a vaccine passport cannot come soon enough for Australia’s tertiary sector.
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