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Govt's 10-year plan for overseas students may see them staying put

Business

More international students could soon be studying at Australian universities without ever stepping foot in the country, as the sector looks set to rebound from the effects of COVID-19.

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The federal government’s new 10-year strategy for the international education sector will look to boost the number of opportunities for overseas students to be able to learn online while being in their own country.

The strategy will also look to diversify the countries that international students come from to study at Australian universities.

Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge said the strategy would help to make the sector more sustainable.

“We want to see our international student market flourish again, but we have to ensure that the Australian student experience is also prioritised,” Tudge said.

“This means that our public universities need to have a higher priority on diversity in their classrooms.”

Under the strategy, as many as 10 million international students could be taking part in Australian university courses from their home country.

Tudge said he wanted to grow the number of opportunities to learn offshore, with the figure currently sitting at 20 per cent of students.

“There is an enormous opportunity to grow our international student market through high-quality, offshore courses, similar to what the United Kingdom has done,” he said.

With some universities having as many as 80 per cent of international students being from one country, the strategy will aim to diversify enrolments.

Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said Australian universities would be promoted in new countries.

“International education is our biggest services export earner and Australia is known globally for providing world-class education,” Tehan said.

“The Morrison government will promote Australia’s education sector to new and existing markets to increase its global reputation as a provider of top quality education.”

The strategy release comes ahead of international students being able to return to Australia without the need for a travel exemption from November 1.

The government said the decision to allow visa holders to return would pave the way for students to attend classes in semester one next year.

The most recent government statistics showed as many as 150,000 student visa holders may be affected by COVID-19 travel restrictions.

International student numbers have fallen dramatically at universities following the start of the pandemic.

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