International students in Adelaide
Regional areas have also benefited from international students, especially those with university campuses. For instance, in Darling Heights and Gatton in regional Queensland, more than 5% of the population were international students.
How local communities and economies benefit
Wherever international students live they will be important parts of communities and economies.
We also examined Universities Australia’s student finance data to identify the type of businesses that benefit most from international education.
We found over 36% of international student spending goes towards retail and entertainment. This is money that will be spent in Australian cafes, markets and other venues.
Another 36% of spending went to property. As 65% of international students rent, much of this income will support Australian property investors.
The benefits international students bring extend beyond the economy. They also volunteer, contribute to Australia’s cultural diversity and enhance our international standing.
This research helps illustrate the many different roles of international students. They are colleagues, friends, neighbours, tenants, customers, classmates and future world-leaders.
Many will also become future Australian citizens. Of the international students who started their course between 2001 to 2014, 1.6 million were granted permanent residency and a pathway to citizenship.
Student visa holders outside Australia
Department of Home Affairs figures show over 120,000 current student visa holders are outside Australia.
We estimate this translates into about 13,000 fewer people living in inner Melbourne due to travel restrictions. In places like Sydney’s city and inner south, this translates into 7,000 fewer people. In Adelaide’s Central and Hills region we estimate this means 5,000 fewer people.
These losses will grow as travels bans stop new international students replacing those who have finished their studies.
Every six months international students cannot enrol due to travel bans, between 110,000 to 140,000 won’t start their courses.
Problems with the international education sector will also affect Australian students. Domestic students share in the perspectives students from around the world bring into classrooms and the extra resources education institutions can afford because of them.
Early reports suggest more school leavers will choose to study at university because of an impending recession.
But while universities have capacity, there are currently funding caps which effectively limit the number of domestic students who can enrol.
Uncapping domestic university places will help ensure our universities can properly meet the needs of school leavers.
Continuing to support international students will also be vital. International students are particularly vulnerable to the economic impact of the pandemic. As non-citizens they are ineligible to access Australian government supports such as JobKeeper.
Many have had to rely on support packages offered by universities and state governments.
It is important that Australia continues to support international students who are struggling. This will signal to current and future international students that Australia values them and the enormous contribution they make to our country.
Author Bio: Peter Hurley is a Policy Fellow, Mitchell Institute at Victoria University