International students still rate Australia highly

New research shows Australia remains an attractive destination for international students, despite the impacts of COVID-19.

About 87,000 international students took part in the 2020 International Student Experience Survey in August and September last year, with 91 per cent rating their overall living experience in Australia highly.

Of those surveyed:

• 97 per cent were satisfied with their personal safety on campus;

• 91 per cent were satisfied with their accommodation;

• 91 per cent were satisfied with opportunities to improve their English skills.

There were, however, declines in satisfaction with students’ overall learning experience, which can be largely attributed to more international students studying online and the impacts of the pandemic. The survey was conducted at the height of Victoria’s lockdown and at a time when many students were studying offshore.

The rating of the Quality of the Entire Educational Experience fell from 75 per cent to 63 per cent, with significant drops in the Learning Resources (11 point drop) and Learner Engagement (10 point drop) categories.

While international student ratings of the overall education experience fell, some universities, like Edith Cowan University and Southern Cross University managed to improve their results.

Minister for Education and Youth Alan Tudge said it was pleasing that international students still rate Australia as place to live and study.

“While our international student market has been significantly impacted by COVID-19, our fundamentals as a destination of choice remain strong,” Minister Tudge said.

“It is clear some institutions have managed the COVID-19 transition better than others, and universities will need to consider how they improve the international student experience in the short and medium term to keep students engaged.

“International students are an important part of the Australian community, and more than half a million have stayed here during the pandemic. We look forward to welcoming other back to our classrooms, campuses and communities, as soon as possible.

“We continue to work closely with universities, states and territories on their plans to return international students when conditions allow.

“I do acknowledge that it has been a particularly challenging time for many students and their families, both in Australia and overseas, and I thank them for sticking with us during this difficult period.”

The full 2020 International Student Experience report can be found online.

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