Austrade regional market update on impact of COVID-19 4 November


Austrade provides regional updates on the progression and impact of COVID-19 around the world, to support the international education sector as the situation continues to evolve. These reports are compiled using the latest on-the-ground information and advice. The following updates include markets and regions for:

  • Europe
  • South Asia
  • North Asia
  • North America



  • The Indonesian government, through the Ministry of Education and Culture (MOEC) has provided free ‘internet for study’ to support learning activities during COVID-19. In October, the government has provided access to approximately 35.7 million students, teachers and lecturers to free access for 2,690 platforms and websites, including video teleconferencing tools via their mobile phones.
  • Lembaga Pengelola Dana Pendidikan (LPDP), a major Indonesian scholarship program, in collaboration with Ministry of Religious Affairs (MORA) has started to provide PhD scholarships for lecturers of Islamic Religious Colleges. In 2020, this scholarship is available for lecturers to pursue further study in 22 institutions in Indonesia, and from next year will support lecturers to study overseas.


  • Without financial assistance from the government to assist with impacts of COVID-19, over 50 private education institutions are expected to close by December 2020. The sector has been largely unaided over the last 60 years, despite contributing approximately AUD $13.74 billion (MYR 40bil) towards the national economy. The private education and training sector accounts for over half of Malaysian students in higher education to date.
  • Local international schools, including high fee-paying schools, are now providing discounts on fees and other financial incentives to help increase domestic enrolment. With limited international students and the impact to the economy due to COVID-19, many institutions in the schools sector have been affected.
  • The Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education has launched an initiative to support device and data plan assistance for higher education students, particularly those from the bottom 40 per cent (B40) or low-income earners. Some 8,965 B40 students in public universities will receive either free or loaned laptops, or cash/vouchers to purchase such devices. New students for the 2020/2021 academic year will also receive financial aid to purchase data plans and other necessities. These incentives support the move to online/blended learning in the medium-term.


  • The number of Thai students, as a proportion of all international students in Australia fell from 10th place in 2019 to 12thplace in the YTD August 2020. There were 14,336 Thai students in Australia between January and August 2020, a 10 per cent decline from the same period in 2019. Schools (-20 per cent) and ELICOS (-16 per cent) experienced the highest decline in student enrolments between January to August 2020. The higher education sector (-8 per cent) and vocational programs (-3 per cent) declined by only single digits as most Thai students were already studying in Australia when the borders closed.
  • From 2 November, Australian Visa Application Centres (AVAC) reopen for biometrics collection for all visa types. Partner, Family and Student visa applications are being prioritised at this time, as well as Visitor visa applications where travel exemptions have been granted. As soon as the announcement was made on AVAC’s website on 27 October, education agents rushed to book biometric appointments for students with applications pending due to COVID-19, including new applicants.
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