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Australia records a significant drop in arrival of international students due to COVID-19

Source: AAP

Australia has recorded a huge drop in the number of international student arrivals in March 2020 compared to last year due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has revealed a drop of 16 per cent compared to the same month in the previous year.

‘Of all arrivals to Australia travelling on an international student visa in March 2020, there was a decrease of 11,790 students compared to the same month in the previous year,’ the ABS data reveals.


  • 60 per cent drop in overseas arrival in March 2020
  • 16 per cent drop in international student arrivals
  • Largest decrease recorded from China (78%)

INternational students MArch 2020
Of all arrivals to Australia travelling on an international student visa in March 2020, there was a decrease of 11,790 students (-16%) compared to the same month in the previous year.
Australian Bureau of Statistics

International education sector contributed $37.6 billion to the Australian economy in 2018-19 and is Australia’s largest service-based export which supports 240,000 jobs.

The three largest source nations for international students are China (109,523), India (105,514), and Nepal (56,186).

Border restrictions due to the global pandemic have meant many international students enrolled at Australian universities have not been able to travel to Australia.

China tops the list of those stuck outside Australia with 67,919 on student visas while India comes in second with 6,974 student visa holders stuck outside as of March 29, 2020.

Student visa holders March 2020
It is clear that China had the largest proportion of student visa holders outside Australia, consistent with it first being the subject of travel restrictions.
The Department of Home Affairs

Melbourne-based registered education agent Bina Shah says many international students from India have not been able to travel after Australia shut down its border to temporary migrants.

“There are many students who are willing and waiting to come to Australia,” Ms Shah said.

The Australian government has flagged considering international student travel and opening universities to allow face-to-face interactions and hands-on, skills-based learning in their framework to return to COVIDSafe Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday (May 08, 2020) said the government will consider lifting the border restrictions for overseas students as part of stage three of the framework to ease coronavirus restrictions.

“Issues of international students you will notice that it does come into the third step of the plan and that is a possibility and how we will work that through, that will have to be carefully tested,” Mr Morrison said adding the process would be carried out with compliance to "strict quarantine restrictions."

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.

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