Australian universities offer rebates to foreign students stranded overseas due to the coronavirus

Australian universities offer rebates to foreign students stranded overseas due to the coronavirus

As Australian universities gear up for another academic year amid a global pandemic, some institutions are offering fee rebates for foreign students.

More than 140,000 enrolled international students were unable to study at Australian campuses after the Federal Government imposed border restrictions last year, according to data from Universities Australia (UA), the peak body for the sector.

Australia’s international border restrictions are expected to stay for the remainder of the year, as it’s still unclear if the vaccines approved so far prevent virus transmission. It is also unclear how effective they will be against new coronavirus strains.

The tertiary sector has been hard hit by the pandemic, with 2020 seeing a raft of cuts to staff and courses, and this trend is unlikely to reverse in 2021.

And as many international students currently studying Australian courses online may not set foot in the country for many months, institutions are coming up with ways to keep students from switching to courses in North America and Europe.

‘It’s very disappointing’

University of Wollongong

Indonesian student Naufal Muhammad Zavier was set to spend his last semester of study in Australia at the University of Wollongong (UOW), until last March’s international border closures made that impossible.

Mr Zavier has instead been doing classes with UOW online and has received a 10 per cent reduction on his overall tuition fees as a result of the move to remote learning.

The university also awarded him an international student scholarship which equated to a further 30 per cent reduction in fees.

«Due to the pandemic, my parents’ source of income as freelancers was also affected … UOW was also very generous by allowing us to pay the tuition fee through instalments,» he said.

UOW is just one of several universities offering incentives to international students to stay competitive.

«International students can still fly into the UK and Canada for face-to-face studies,» Phil Honeywood, chief executive of the International Education Association of Australia (IEAA), told the ABC.

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