The outbreak of COVID-19 has a significant impact on the education sector. It started on 1 February 2020, when travel restrictions were put in place for travellers from mainland China, then on 20 March 2020, it expanded to all foreign travellers. The inability for students to travel into Australia has an adverse impact on the education sector. It is estimated that $16 billion in revenue will be lost in the next three years, and there will be an increase in the unemployment rate in the industry.
Data provided by the Department of Home Affairs attest to the decline in the number of students attending school in Australia. The statistics reveal the number of Subclass 500 Student Visa applications that were lodged in 2019 as compared to 2020.
The number of subclass 500 visa applications lodged by onshore applicants has declined since the outbreak. However, the decline is not drastic as applicants are already onshore, and the border closure would have a lesser impact than offshore applicants. Some onshore applicants may also re-apply for a student visa to extend their stay in Australia as they cannot travel back home. Overall, the reduction in subclass 500 applications for onshore applicants is relatively minimal compared to offshore applicants.
Onshore Student Visa Numbers Decline
Offshore Student Visa Numbers- Rapid Decline
Statistics from the Department of Home Affairs indicate the rapid decline of subclass 500 visa applications lodged by offshore applicants. This is understandable because the closure of borders has a significant impact on the applicant’s ability to travel to Australia. In most months since April 2020, the decline in the number of applications lodged has been more than 50% compared to the previous year.
To combat the negative impact of COVID-19 on the education sector, the government has put in place measures to support the education industry. Some of the support measures include:
- Waiving student visa fees to allow students to lodge a further student visa application to complete their studies.
- Students who undertook studies online due to COVID-19 will still be able to apply for a Subclass 485.
Although some students may decide to enrol to study online, the impact of COVID-19 on the education sector will last over some time. Until travel restrictions are removed, many students will be impacted.
Australia will not allow foreign students to return yet as Canberra is prioritising the return of locals stuck overseas, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on 13 November 2020.
With foreign students worth about AUD$35 billion a year to the Australian economy, Canberra had hoped to slowly allow overseas students to return in 2021. Trials began earlier this year. But with thousands of Australians wanting to return, Morrison there is not enough quarantine facilities.
- Student Visa Numbers Decline
- Australia Visa Waivers and Refunds
- Travel restrictions to Australia affecting international education
- Likely Changes to Temporary Graduate Visa for International Students Studying Online
- COVID-19 Concessions for Subclass 485 (Temporary Graduate) visas (18 September 2020)
- Australia announces important visa changes to support international students