International student arrivals veer off cliff

The latest student visa data from the Department of Home Affairs suggested that claims of a crash in international student numbers are wildly exaggerated with the number of student visas on issue as at 30 June 2020 slightly higher than a year earlier:

As shown above, there were 555,310 student visas on issue at the end of June, up 0.4% on the 553,139 visas on issue in June 2019.

The outlook for international student numbers, however, is poor judging by the latest overseas arrivals data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Due to border closures, the annual number of international student arrivals has collapsed by 42.5% from their January peak, from 621,360 to 357,270:

The longer border closures remain, the further annual student arrivals number will fall. And with the student pipeline drying up, actual visa numbers will soon follow.

Unconventional Economist


  1. They can issue the visas, but it doesn’t mean they’ll come. Not sure how willing the Chinese would be to come over given the decline in recent international relations, and the Indians are struggling to contain their COVID numbers. There was a World Bank release stating that about a third of Nepalese would be below the poverty line post covid –, so I daresay their impact will also be limited.

    • Re: Nepal, it might just make them more motivated to come. One thing that COVID has highlighted is that these education fees are not ‘exports’ with overseas families paying for fees in Australia with overseas funds. That might have been the case for a rare few from wealthy families. They are mostly people relying on part time jobs in Australia, and the ABC even reported some students concerned they couldn’t send extra money home to support their family. It was largely an internal domestic transfer of funds from one sector to another, and an avenue for a virtual work permit. They basically just need to raise the air fare and the initial deposit.

      • Have you got a link to the ABC article re remitting money back to home countries? That is amazing – obviously well known to commentators here, but that they would be so brazen to admit it is actually an import (money going out) rather than an export (money coming in).

  2. So, all that great work since 2013, when the Abbottabad got “OPEN FOR BUSINESS”, suddenly coming undone…

  3. COVID tax on over 65's

    Surely it goes to 0 if there are stranded Australians waiting their turn to be allowed back into their country.

    • No way, the Australians will just be required to make room for the foreigners. It’s the Australian way.

  4. Shades of MessinaMEMBER

    Arrivals might crash but student visa numbers might go up as TR’s who have lost jobs roll back into education as a way of prolonging their stay in Australia ?.

    Chinese students seem most likely to head back home compared to other nationalities.

  5. India is filthy with Covid-19 and has proved incapable of controlling its spread. So we issue 108,203 visas to their citizens, a 14.3% increase over last year when the Covid count was zero. What steps are being taken to ensure that no one among the 108,203 Indian arrivals brings the disease with them and spreads it throughout the community, as is perfectly common back home? Or am I being racist?

  6. UK student arrivals down 50% Canada down 60% with open borders, dont presume people are dying to get back here so quick,it’s a long road to a to recovery and a massive reset for the entire tertiary sector