Australia will open its borders to international students and other visa holders today.
Australia’s borders have been closed to non-citizens since March 2020, and this opening was further delayed from the start of this month due to the emergence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19. This opening is likely to bring relief to Australia’s education sector, which is heavily reliant on international students. Education services were Australia’s third largest export in 2019.
The education sector in Australia is likely to approach the return of international students with a strategy of diversifying the countries from which international students originate. In 2019, between 30 and 40% of all international students—and 10% of all students—at Australian universities were Chinese, creating economic concerns that the sector is too dependent on China.
In the short-term, re-opening borders to international students will help bolster a significant sector of the Australian economy. In the medium-term, expect the education sector to experience relatively sluggish growth due to low enrolment numbers and the ease of travel to other destinations. This trend is likely to slow the overall economic growth of Australia.
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Cian is a Research Analyst and contributes to both Analysis and the Daily Brief. He specializes in Australian and European geopolitics with a particular interest in the strategic autonomy of the EU.