A virtual convention was held by the Association of Australian Education Representatives in India (AAERI), recently. According to the speakers present at the meeting, Australia must think of reducing international student fees, improvising post-study work options and checking whether the universities of Australia want to add a destination of choice in this COVID-19 situation.
AAERI president Ravi L Singh outlined a few points that must be addressed by the Australian government. It also includes the need to support tens of thousands of students during the pandemic situation with a positive outlook to the future.
He further said that the fees of international students for 2021 must be reduced by 25% and students enrolled in online courses should be subsidised. He highlighted that the amenities fees charged by students who are not on the campus must be considered by the authorities.
He suggested that current students in Australia should be given one extra year to complete their postgraduate course. Also, he asked the government to make public transportation completely free for students for the next year.
Barry O’Farrell, the Australian high commissioner to India said that an estimated AUD$1.3 billion had been pledged by the federal, state, territory governments in Australia and education providers and the broader community to support international students during the Covid-19 crisis. It includes welfare services, financial assistance, mental health support and emergency relief initiatives.
He said that the Australian government has taken initiatives to introduce flexible visas and assist students with the application process for the post-study visa outside Australia including the online study, post-study work visa requirements and an extension of students working hours for jobs which are critical to COVID 19 response.
When asked about Indian students to return to these pilots, O’Farrell could not give a guaranteed response. He said that travel from India is subject to conditions imposed by India’s Ministry of Home Affairs. He added that while India may commence regular flights to other countries in the mid of September, there is no certainty to plan a pilot for Indian students till date.
Also Read: Pilot Scheme to Let 300 Overseas Students Return to South Australia in September
Singh said that the rationalisation of fees for international students should be considered keeping in mind the exchange rate and the need of Australia to remain competitive in the coming years. He suggested that instead of a discount in fees, there must be fresh consideration by the universities.
According to him, the Australian government should promise more to those students who have studied in Australia, paid for living expenses and have invested in Australia. He also recommended the universities to ‘refocus’ and mainly focus on what they are good that i.e teaching and research.
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