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'Study Melbourne hub' to be opened in India to attract international students to Victoria as borders remain shut

Victoria to set up Study Melbourne hub in India to lure international students. Source: Abhas Parajuli

The Victorian Government will be setting up a new study hub in India to secure a greater share of international students studying online and to create a pathway for them to study in Victorian universities upon their return in 2021.

Indian-origin students currently stranded outside Australia will now have support from new Study Melbourne hub which will be set up in India to attract new students and to connect existing students to Victorian education providers while they continue to study online.


Highlights:

  • Victoria to set up Study Melbourne hub in India to lure international students
  • As of 6 December 2020, there were 31,300 Indian international students in Victoria
  • 4,200 Indian international students are currently studying online from outside Australia

Revealing the short-term recovery plan for the state’s $13.7 billion worth international education sector, Minister for Trade Martin Pakula said these centres will be instrumental in taking Victoria’s education offering to the world and will position the state for a comprehensive post-pandemic recovery.

“We will go to the world and tell our story, which is compelling, to attract the next generation of students and create the foundations for a sustained recovery,” said Minister Pakula.

Objective of the study hubs:

The study hubs will be designed to reinforce Victoria’s status as ‘Australia’s best student city’ besides providing students with information about living in Victoria while fostering a sense of community for online students amid intensifying global competition for share of overseas students.

International Students
In India, the hub will provide a shared space for hosting sessions and a platform for networking for international students.
Getty Images/urbancow

A state spokesperson told SBS Punjabi that in India, the hub will provide a physical location for online learners to come together and access support and information on the variety of professional and lifestyle benefits of studying with a Victorian education provider. It will also provide a shared space for networking events.

“An Indian hub will provide a shared study space as well as hosting information sessions for prospective students and regular networking events such as English conversation clubs,” said the spokesperson.

Similar hubs will also be established in strategic international markets in Asia and Latin America to showcase Victoria’s global leadership in digital training and education innovation by connecting various stakeholders including edtech companies, education providers, educators, researchers and investors.

Besides study hubs, the recovery initiatives will also include a ‘Pathway to Victoria’ scholarship program and international research partnerships to encourage prospective students to make Victoria their first choice. 

The Study Melbourne Student Centre’s online presence will also be bolstered, ensuring potential students and students enrolled in regional Victoria have access to the resources and support they need to thrive, according to the recovery plan.

When will international students return to Victoria?

As of 6 December 2020, there were 31,300 Indian international students in Victoria, and 4,200 were studying online from outside Australia.

The state is under constant pressure to reveal its plan for the return of international students in the upcoming academic year, as it stands to lose an estimated $5.8 billion in revenue.

While the Victorian Government failed to meet the November 30 deadline that had been set by Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan to outline student return plans, the state has indicated that it is working with the Federal Government on a detailed plan to fly back its share of foreign students from early 2021.

‘Clearly not enough’

Business student Vinay Kumar Rao who had travelled to India in March in a rush to attend to his ailing father remains stranded in Nagpur in central India.

International students
International student, Vinay Kumar Rao
Supplied by Vinay Kumar Rao

The 32-year-old said strengthening remote learning mechanisms is not a feasible solution to the problems being faced by students stranded overseas, as a majority of them chose to study in Australia so they could find a pathway to live there permanently.

“I chose to study in Australia because that’s the country I saw myself living in long term. I do know that many students have chosen to continue studying online but for me, that never really was an option. The internet connection is very choppy here and I also left my laptop in Melbourne since I had planned to return in a few days,” he said.

More than 250,000 international students travelled to study in Victoria in 2019 but only 120,000 currently remain in the state due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Infuriated by the lack of action on international students offshore, Mr Rao said the only practical solution is for Australia to open its borders to existing students.

“You can make these plans for new or prospective students, but at least be considerate towards students who are currently enrolled and are halfway through their degrees. Australia owes this much to us,” he added.

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

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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