DECEMBER 5, 2021
Many international students enrolled at Australian universities who have been stranded overseas by border closures unable to attend in-person education are now shifting their focus to other study destinations, such as the United States and the United Kingdom.
One of the main reasons why international students are changing their minds about their education in Australia are the stricter border restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to entry rules in the US and the UK, Erudera.com reports.
Sakhawat Alee, who was a student at Sydney’s Macquarie University, told SBS News that back in March, he had to travel to his home country Pakistan for a family emergency, but he could not enter Australia again since March 20, 2020, due to entry ban.
“For one year after that, I waited for Australia to reopen its borders to international students. I deferred my course twice,” Alee said, adding that in 2021 he decided to move to the UK and is now studying at the University of Bradford.
At the same time, Divij Gupta from India, a student at the University of Western Australia, began his Bachelor studies in July last year; however, he is still unable to enter Australia or attend in-person classes. In an interview with SBS News, he said he paid $2,500 for a one-way ticket to Melbourne to arrive on December 3, 2021.
Nevertheless, due to the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, Gupta, and other international students who were expected to enter Australia from December 1 had to postpone their arrival by two weeks, meaning they will be able to enter Australia only from December 15. Despite the announcement, Health Minister Greg Hunt did not guarantee even this specific date.
“It’s our intention at the end of that period, subject to the science and medical advice, to return to the previous settings. It will depend on the international evidence,” Hunt told Sky News.
Many international students enrolled at Australian universities continue to express their frustration over Australia’s entry ban, and some of them have pointed out that they just want to take back their belongings left in Australia.
According to the latest research by IDP Connect, involving 3,650 students, the majority of international students want to pursue higher education at Canadian universities. The study has revealed that Canada is the first choice for higher education for 39 percent of students, followed by 17 percent choosing the United States and the United Kingdom both, and 16 percent mentioning Australia as their first choice.