New data from independent provider s in the higher education, vocational education, training and skills
sectors shows that one in four providers are seeing students cancel or postpone their studies due to the
Novel coronavirus (COVID -19). According to the sector’s peak body, the Independent Tertiary Education
Council Australia (ITECA), a number of independent providers have advised that the COVID -19 outbreak
now threatens their viability.
“Australia’s independent tertiary education providers enjoy a reputation internationally for providing h igh
quality education and training. This reputation endures, however, an increasing number of providers are
saying international students are either postponing or cancelling their stud ies in Australia,” said Mr Troy
Williams, ITECA Chief Executive.
A surv ey of ITECA members shows that 10% of providers supporting international students have
experienced students cancelling their enrolment, and 24% of providers have student s that have postponed
their enrolment. As travel restrictions on students from Chi na continue, the impact on international
providers is expected to grow.
“The sector is facing some real challenges right now as providers experience a significant decrease in
student numbers. Should the travel restrictions on Chinese students endure, the impact on the mid -year
intake will be catastrophic for many providers,” Mr Williams said.
ITECA notes the willingness of the tertiary sector’s regulators, the Tertiary Education Quality and Standards
Agency (TEQSA) and the Australian Skills Quality Authori ty (ASQA) to support providers, including those
gearing up to support students via online learning. The challenge, according to ITECA, is that many courses
simply don’t transition well to online delivery.
“Online delivery is great for some disciplines, but for many courses that have a practical hands -on
component, online training isn’t an option. From aviation, construction, commercial cookery to hospitality
it’s simply not possible to provide training and assessment online,” Mr Williams sa id.
Data collected from ITECA members indicates that around 12% of independent providers have assessed the
impact of COVID -19 as being of sufficient magnitude to impact their financial viability.
“Independent tertiary education providers have a track -recor d of supporting not only domestic students.
but also those from overseas. It’s imperative that as the Australian Government considers a package of
measures to support Australia’s $39billion international education sector, that the role of independent
tert iary education providers is acknowledged and reinforced,” Mr Williams said.
There are approximately 140 independent higher education providers and some 3,500 independent vocational
education and training providers. The ITECA State Of The Sector Report not es that international students with
independent tertiary education providers contribute more than $3.5 billion to the Australian economy.