Many international students enrolled at Australian universities who have been stranded overseas due to border closures and unable to attend in-person education are now looking to other study destinations, such as the United States and the United Kingdom.
The stricter border restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, compared to entry rules in the US and the UK, are one of the main reasons why international students are reconsidering their education in Australia.
Sakhawat Alee, a student at Sydney's Macquarie University, told SBS News that he travelled to Pakistan in March for a family emergency. Still, he couldn't enter Australia again until March 20, 2020, due to an entry ban.
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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.
Simultaneously, Divij Gupta, an Indian student at the University of Western Australia, began his Bachelor studies in July of last year. However, he is still unable to enter Australia or attend in-person classes. He told SBS News that he paid $2,500 for a one-way ticket to Melbourne, arriving on December 3, 2021.
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Nonetheless, due to the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, Gupta, and other international students who were scheduled to arrive in Australia on December 1 were forced to delay their arrival by two weeks, meaning they will be able to enter Australia only on December 15. Despite the announcement, Health Minister Greg Hunt made no guarantees, including the 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,” said Hunt.
Many international students enrolled at Australian universities continue to express their dissatisfaction with Australia's entry ban. Some have stated that they want to retrieve their belongings left in Australia.
According to the most recent IDP Connect research, which included 3,650 students, most international students wish to pursue higher education at Canadian universities. According to the study, 39 per cent of students prefer Canada for higher education, followed by 17 per cent who choose both the United States and the United Kingdom, and 16 per cent who prefer Australia.