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Free online courses to entice international students

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International student retention and recruitment suffered a major blow when COVID-19 forced countries to shut borders. But in a first for the sector, 20 Australian universities backed by government agency Austrade, have teamed up with United Kingdom-based digital education platform FutureLearn to provide 50 free courses to students anywhere in the world.

The 'Study with Australia' campaign has already attracted more than half-a-million enrolments. It's a market the Federal government doesn’t want to lose.


  • Study with Australia' campaign has already attracted more than half-a-million enrolments
  • The campaign is aimed at offering students the chance to upskill during the COVID-19 pandemic

Austrade's head of global education, Rebecca Hall, says the campaign is aimed at offering students the chance to upskill during the COVID-19 pandemic and also a “try before you buy” scheme.

"Ultimately though it's also about showing Australia's brand, Australia's education to the world for the high quality and innovation that we offer, without needing to leave your home. There are also those who might taste and try - we know there are some students who have done short courses before and then made decisions to come to Australia to do their masters or further education."

There is concern about Australia’s reputation as an education provider has been damaged due to a perceived lack of support for international students. Australia allowed temporary visa holders to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation, but that offer ended on the 30th of June.

New Zealand, Canada, France and Germany offered extensive financial hardship support to international students. The UK offered additional mental health funding and visa flexibility around the number of hours students can work.

However Education Minister Dan Tehan says demand to study in Australia will not be hindered; it will increase, due to the country's response to the health crisis.

"Through the universities themselves, through state and territory governments and through the Commonwealth government, there was about $1.3 billion of available support there for our international students."

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